The Folklore Museums Network will act as a project partner for an exciting new project that will consider magical and spiritually invested objects from museum collections and how a diverse array of contemporary practitioners today view and conceptualize them. The project will first work with collections at the Pitt Rivers in Oxford via a workshop but will have many important outcomes. The FMN are part of ‘Amulets, charms, and witch bottles: Thinking about ‘magical’ objects in museum collections through collaborative interaction between academics and curators with Pagans, witchcraft practitioners and other communities with spiritual investment’ - a MOLA Impact Acceleration Account project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/X003523/1) and led by Nigel Jeffries at MOLA and museum and heritage consultant Tom Crowley. More exciting details to follow!
On the 29th September 2023, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS UK) invited Peter of the Folklore Museums Network to a meeting to vote upon creating a National Forum for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UK.
The discussion was informed upon three recommendations, brought forward from previous work by ICOMOS UK; specifically, the need to:
1) establish a national inventory of ICH to encourage regional efforts in devolved countries and work with individual agencies to safeguard the five domains of ICH (as defined by UNESCO)…
2) To invite the UK government to share its reasons why the ICH Convention has not yet been signed…
3) To impress upon the UK government the urgent need to sign the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage soon as possible, and that it should develop a unique approach for the UK situation, i.e., its devolved governments who have responsibility for heritage, as well as the varied regions of the UK, including overseas territories.
It was agreed that a National Forum should indeed be founded, with attendees of the meeting forming the core membership (which will be open to others too).
The meeting was attended by Phil Foxwood of the Cultural Diplomacy team at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It was good to hear first hand the options available to the UK should the Westminster government sign the 2003 UNESCO ICH Convention. The most realistic option going forward, according to Foxwood, was that the UK government would act as convenor of organisations already working in this field; this would manifest as encouragement and assistance to help implement the convention. It is fairly clear, but not certain at this stage, that financial help to do this would not be forthcoming, and the UK's ICH 'agencies' should not expect the creation of a single body or offshoot government department for ICH, like the Dutch Centre for ICH, for example. As these were informal discussions however, this is not set in stone, but was illustrative of the Westminster direction of travel at this time.
If you are interested in ICOMOS UK’s work in this area, check out Exploring-ICH-in-Museum-Context-report.pdf (icomos-uk.org), their most recent Bulletin ICOMOS Bulletin.pdf (icomos-uk.org) and their website.
The Folklore Museums Network was invited to join these discussions and we look forward to working with ICOMOS UK and its partners within the National Forum to help promote intangible heritage and folklore in the UK. If you would like to know more, email firstname.lastname@example.org