The consequences and impacts of the crisis situation the world finds itself in today will influence how museums address global agendas. The theme for FIHRM’s 10th anniversary is Power and Voices and with this new blog series, we would like to widen our conversation to reflect on our current circumstances and how they impact the role of museums. Isolation, lack of access to basic needs and lack of access to technology means many will have maybe lost their voice completely, whereas there is also a real sense of human spirit and creativity emerging. In this series, FIHRM members and colleagues share their reflections on this shifting landscape. What must the role of museums be?
FIHRM President David Fleming talks about the importance of human rights museums during the coronavirus crisis:
“The main thing to remember for human rights museums during the coronavirus crisis is for them never to give up the fight. There are politicians and others who will try to use the crisis to pursue their own, anti-democratic agendas, and the longer the crisis lasts, the more tempted such people will be.
So museums have to find ways both to stay in business and also to keep up the pro-human rights messaging. When the health crisis is over, we must not have relaxed so much that we have to fight old battles once again in order simply to play catch-up, because those of us who believe in human rights have allowed those who do not to take advantage of the situation.
Museums should never relax, because the enemies of human rights are numerous, powerful and relentless. We will only defeat them by acknowledging this and by remaining steadfast, whatever diversions there may be. The crisis will pass, but there will be others.
Museums are finding ways to keep up the messaging, despite the fact that most of them have had to close their doors to the public. In these days of digital access and social media there is no reason why any museum should stay silent about attacks on democracy, whether in Cambodia, Myanmar, Hungary, Brazil, the USA or the UK.
The message has to be to ensure that human rights are at the forefront of people’s minds, and are not trampled on without exposure and challenge because people are preoccupied with a health crisis: if we do not do this then the world risks becoming a much worse place to live. ”
Look out for more the next blog and more news about the conference coming soon.