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Museums as Places for Intercultural Dialogue

The project aims at fully developing the potential of museums as places of interculturaldialogue and at promoting a more active engagement with the communities they serve.“Culture” is a complex concept, generally referring to patterns of human activity and tothe symbolic structures that give such activity significance, as such including systems ofbelief, religion, rituals, norms of behaviour, as well as codes of manners and languages.However, cultures are also the consequence of a dynamic process. Over time allcultures change and develop through contact with other cultures. Cultures can bedifferent not only between continents or nations, but also within the same family.The multilayered idea of culture as a result of a cross breeding process and a pluralisticapproach to an individual’s culture, should help avoid simplifications, defy prejudicesand do away with pre-conceived ideas of “our” culture, “their” culture. In thisperspective, intercultural dialogue becomes a much more complex principle than simplyintegrating “new citizens” within mainstream culture and putting it into action can resultin much richer, more intellectually challenging practices.The roles of museums and other heritage institutions have traditionally excluded thosewho “do not belong” and their collections have been historically formed to reflect the“identity” of nation-states, rather than developed for the sake of cultural diversity or inorder to enhance intercultural competencies. However, museums are also, by nature,places where different cultures are documented through the material evidence theyproduce over the centuries, where these same cultures are researched, whereknowledge is made available to citizens in many different ways. Museums are places ofresearch, linking past and present, distant and near; they are also places wherequestions are raised and debate is facilitated. The knowledge they produce can helpunderstand cultures and cultural identities, fostering recognition and mutual respect.
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