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ICOM Russia President

ICOM Russia President

Vladimir Tolstoy 


Dear Colleagues!

Dear friends!

Several years ago, three National Committees of the International Council of Museums – ICOM Russia, ICOM Germany, and ICOM US – decided to hold a joint conference in St. Petersburg. The topic of the conference was "Museums and Power." This topic has always been relevant for the entire domain of culture in all countries of the world, but nowadays it has become critically important.

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Culture has always been a universal language understandable to representatives of any nation, even if its representative does not speak the language that verbalizes a specific element of the culture. This universality has enormous consolidating potential that can and must be used by cultural figures to build bridges that join different countries and help different people see and get to know each other. In the near future, culture must become a "new" tool to enter into dialog and overcome contradictions. In this regard, culture and, particularly, museums do not limit themselves only to a diplomatic function. The concept of the connection that culture can build is much deeper – it brings together not citizens but people, explains the other, and helps to understand the structure of the society and the underlying connection which exists there, the global ultimate causes that lead to these or any other processes. This is exactly why museums have such great potential in terms of dealing with conflicts, both local and global, and in terms of building a harmonious society.

Moreover, in recent years museums have started taking on more social responsibility and started playing the role of the local community center. Many museums have become even more influential in their communities, and not only form the identity and create an image of territories, but also influence decisions and policies.

In our challenging time it is imperative to work out complex ways to achieve the following: how to make museums into active participants in the process of formation of cultural policies and not become toys in the hands of politicians in doing so; how to maintain funding in times of crisis; how to preserve the balance in historic interpretations and demonstrations of different positions in order not become an ideological machine; and how to preserve regional identity in the context of globalization.

I am confident that the conference will be interesting to museum specialists from all over the world with wide-ranging backgrounds, and the participation of the broadest spectrum of specialists in the most interesting discussions will help develop a mutual position regarding the most pressing problems currently faced by the museum community.