A CollAsia 2019 international course, 2-23 October, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Planning new exhibitions: conservation, communication, community

Heritage collections bear testimony to our diversity, ingenuity, and history. They are a powerful resource for education which foster creativity, social cohesion and well-being. Exhibitions are a powerful tool to promote change, and their planners are the actors who can make it happen.

Enter 20 heritage professionals from 12 countries (Bhutan, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, The Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe) who came together in Vientiane at the Lao National Museum to share their knowledge and experience on planning new exhibitions during the CollAsia course on “Planning new exhibitions: conservation, communication, community”.

The key issues addressed the course were conservation and access, building meaningful narratives, innovation, inclusivity, and sustainability. Exhibitions were considered from a people-centred perspective: who are the stakeholders and how can we engage and co-curate with them?

CollAsia 2019 international course

Participants looked at different types of materials and objects in heritage collections, their vulnerabilities to agents of deterioration, and the risks they are exposed to when going on display. They had hands-on experience on handling and moving challenging objects (like a mass of green balloons!), on making mounts and supports, captions and brochures, condition reports, disaster planning, packing and unpacking artefacts for exhibitions. They discussed institutional mandates, values and significance, documentation, research, monitoring, waste reduction, effective budgeting and communication. Above all, the course reflected critically on how to maximise the positive impact of exhibitions on our societies.

ICCROM´s CollAsia programme aims at improving the conservation and sustainable use of heritage collections in Southeast Asia by means of continual professional development. It also tries to establish meaningful links with heritage collections and professionals from other parts of the world, e.g. through South-South cooperation, to promote knowledge sharing and create synergies in tackling common conservation issues. ICCROM is thankful to the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea for its long-lasting commitment and generous support to CollAsia.