Planning for the future: ICH included and understood
The current Cultural Heritage Act aims to integrate work on movable and intangible cultural heritage. But the main challenge here is that they both work according to different logics. How can you give intangible heritage a place in your collection policy? The Werkplaats Immaterieel Erfgoed (WIE - workplace for intangible heritage) is aiming to offer an answer to this question with this project, with advice and supervision from meemoo.
The 2017 Cultural Heritage Act aims to create an integrated heritage approach, which isn’t as easy as it might seem. This is because heritage management is different for movable and intangible cultural heritage (ICH). ICH is much more dynamic compared to movable heritage because it focuses on practices rather than objects.
In order to better combine the management of intangible heritage practices and collection pieces, WIE is aiming to take a first step towards this integration with the project ‘Plannen voor de toekomst: ICE (in)begrepen’ (‘Planning for the future: ICH included and understood’). In concrete terms, they will investigate how intangible heritage can have a place in collection plans.
The strategic vision paper ‘Een Vlaams cultuurbeleid in een digitaal tijdperk’ (‘A Flemish cultural policy in the digital era’), which puts open and accessible digital cultural content first, was drawn up in 2018. In addition to this, collection registration, documentation and use currently focus mainly on movable heritage. All this raises many questions about how we can integrate ICH into collection plans:
How can you collect living cultural expressions and what does this involve?
How do participants collaborate on your collection plan?
What is the link with the value of ICH?
What do you collect, exactly: related objects, evidence or practices?
What agreements or standards do you use for registration?
How do existing digital systems and standards relate to ICH, and how applicable are they?
In this project, we attempt to find answers to these questions by looking at the difficulties that exist and what we can learn from practice.
We also want to provide clarity in the digital context of the collection policy and the systems used. This project undoubtedly raises new questions and requirements, which in turn provide new input for current issues. We can use this input to offer solutions to issues relating to ownership rights, new collaborative models between ICH users, the further development of existing procedures, and digital systems for collection registration.
The WIE is taking on the challenge of this complex and multifaceted project together with various partner organisations. They will do this with and for recognised museums in Flanders and Brussels, intangible heritage experts and communities, and in collaboration with Dutch museums and international expertise centres.
Meemoo is providing advice and supervision around the project’s digital aspects. For example, we are helping to organise a workshop on documenting and contextualising intangible heritage practices within collection operations.
We will also be supervising a test case for digital registration in phase two of the project.
In an initial phase in 2019-2020, we carried out desk research and qualitative surveys of museum practices to assess the current state of affairs. We collected existing literature, information and inspiration, and identified needs and questions.
A second phase of practical research with test projects, in which meemoo will supervise the digital registration test case, will now follow. The purpose of this test case is to collate and test working methods. We want to give heritage communities a say and enrich the collection data with information about ICH. The test case will examine the roles involved in the process of linking museum pieces to ICH practices, and the associated rules for description.
We’re organising a workshop consisting of three sessions in April 2021, and this second phase will provide concrete insights and tools for integrating ICH into museum collection planning by autumn 2021. This will lead to a learning network, where the knowledge and experience gained can be exchanged to gain new insights. Finally, there will also be a digital publication and closing conference in which the results of the project will be shared.