Korea is one of the leading countries in enhancing regional
safeguarding in the Asia-Pacific region, with experience and knowledge
regarding the protection of intangible cultural heritage.
The nation has a growing role in sharing and delivering the idea of
better preserving intangible heritages through the International
Journal of Intangible Heritage, published by the National Folk Museum
of Korea under the auspices of the International Council of Museums
“Korea has been, in my opinion, the most committed and most generous
government to focus on thinking about safeguarding intangible
heritages, not only in Korea but also a number of Asia-Pacific
countries. Look at Mongolia and Vietnam and recently Fiji. (There are)
So many countries Korea is trying to help,” Amareswar Galla, professor
of the University of Queensland, Australia, said.
Galla and Hans-Martin Hinz, new president of ICOM, along with other
prestigious international scholars, are visiting Seoul on Feb. 8 to 11
to attend the editorial and advisory meeting of the journal’s sixth
volume at the museum in Seoul.
The journal was first published in May 2006 after the ICOM Triennial
General Conference took place in 2004 in Seoul under the theme
“Museums and Intangible Heritage.” Listed on A&HCI (Arts & Humanities
Citation Index) last year, the publication is the first of its kind
that deals with intangible heritage around the world. It introduces
theory and practice in relation to the study, preservation,
interpretation and promotion of living heritage.
The German president said that through the journals, the museum
curators can share knowledge to prepare for exhibitions. “Articles (in
previous volumes) are very impressive. The volumes are distributed all
over the world. The impact of the articles is quite strong if the
museum curators get those copies to the museums and read and think
about them and have discussions,” said Hinz.
Galla and Hinz both agreed on the significance of the 2004 conference
in Seoul as a good starting point to raise awareness of living
treasures around the world following UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
International interest is gradually moving from tangible heritage to
the intangible. Many years after UNESCO’s 1972 World Heritage
Convention focusing on protection of “world heritage site status,” it
came up with measures at the 2003 convention. “Years later, many
conferences on the theme have taken place all over the world organized
by ICOM’s international and national committees. We have discussions
on intangible heritages. In the regions and countries, especially
among museum people and curators, when they prepare the exhibitions
nowadays, they have an eye on intangible heritages to explain history
not just through materialized object but also through intangible
history. So far it was a good beginning for us,” the president said.
Hinz also emphasized the role of ICOM as the non-governmental
organization to cope with the international problems many countries
are facing — looting and illicit excavations.
“When you listened to TV or radio last week in Egypt as well as in
other places, there was a lot of looting, illegal excavations — things
were stolen in museums as long as there was no protection by the army.
So ICOM can have a voice and can speak to the public and media and
police, whoever needs this information for clarified situation. This
is one important thing ICOM has to do,” said Hinz.
Hinz, who was elected as the new head of ICOM last year, will serve a
three-year term by succeeding Alissandra Cummins who served from 2004
Hinz, a doctor of natural sciences, began his career as advisor for
the establishment of new museums for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs
in West Berlin, Germany. Since 1991, he has been a member of the
management team at the German Historical Museum in Berlin where he was
a curator for 10 years. From 2000 to 2001, he was deputy minister of
culture for Berlin.