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  • 2009 Lamphun Field School: Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums

    The first workshop in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Field School series focused on the role of museums in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Aimed at heritage practitioners and museum operators in the Mekong region, SAC’s pilot Field School offered both conceptual frameworks and hands-on practical training for incorporating intangible cultural heritage into the museum. Drawing on SAC’s five years of experience working with local and community-based museums in Thailand, the Field School highlighted strategies for developing collaborative partnerships between museums and their communities.

    Museums have long been sites for the collection and display of tangible heritage, including art and artifacts. In recent years, however, museums around the world have endeavored to expand the scope of their exhibitions and curatorial practices to include living heritage, such as oral history, craftsmanship, festivals, ritual and performance, and in this regard, museums are increasingly being recognized as important partners in the effort to safeguard intangible cultural heritage.

    However, this expansion of museum work to include intangible heritage presents a number of methodological challenges. While most museum professionals are trained to manage collections of objects, working with intangible heritage entails the extensive involvement and active participation of communities who are the bearers of living culture. In learning about intangible heritage, museum professionals must engage with local communities to understand the history and meaning of their cultural expressions. In addition, in curating intangible heritage, they must know how to establish equal partnerships with culture bearers and develop mechanisms for sharing authority and decision-making about museum activities and representations.

    The 2009 Field School, which took place in Lamphun Province, Thailand, focused on the role of museums in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, including sessions on the following topics:

    • definitions of intangible cultural heritage
    • an overview of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, including debates and critiques
    • the role of museums in safeguarding ICH (identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission and revitalization)
    • Learning from case studies in Vanuatu, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Canada (Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Lay Hin Monastery, Baan Don Monastery, and Tha Phud Monastery)
    • anthropological approaches and tools for researching and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage
    • new museological approaches
    • cultural rights and IP rights
    • museums and inventories of intangible heritage
    • participatory heritage management and stakeholder analysis

    Further details about the 2009 Field School are available at the links below:


    Resource Persons
    Working Groups

    Powerpoint Presentations

    2009 Field School Report


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