Adam Norman, Kalmar läns museum/Bridging Ages

What’s your take on cultural heritage and intercultural dialogue?

Within the Educational department at Kalmar county museum and in the international network Bridging Ages we have a broad understanding of cultural heritage, in the sense that it involves absolutely everything. It is the objects around us, the languages, songs, feelings, everything we use to navigate through life. Or maybe cultural heritage is life itself? Concerning intercultural dialogue, the heritage is crucial for meeting and understanding different perspectives. The personal and collective heritage is something that we all share. Even though the form and content differ, we all share the fact that we have a heritage, and that we are constantly creating and recreating the heritage of tomorrow.

How do you think we can amplify the relevance of cultural heritage in the everyday life of people (outside the sector)?

The ICOM definition of a museum states that the organisation should ”be in the service of the society and its development” so we have to work with the challenges of today in order to create a better tomorrow. As institutions dealing with the past we have to accept and embrace that we are working in the a future-sector. Our tool is the past, but our goal must be tomorrow and this work has to be done in close connection to the surrounding society on local, regional, national and global level. By integrating a heritage aspect in other sectors of society, we amplify our relevance.

Which big challenges do you think that cultural institutions have concerning the future?

This question could be understood in two different ways: What challenges will cultural institutions have in the future? or What are the challenges for cultural institutions today, in relation to the future?

When in comes to the first question, we have many different challenges ahead of us and one of the bigger might be the question of knowledge. A museum is closely connected to the idea of knowledge, as a temple of truth. Much effort has been made in cultural institutions to pursue the True story, digging through archives, objects, sources and so on. But what happens when the truth becomes irrelevant? When there are several, parallell truths out there?

If we understand the question in another way: that we have challenges today, that are somehow related to the future, we have one big problem. The future has already happened. Since the dawn of organised museums we have gathered and acquired objects in order to preserve them for the future. But the future is always happening, and there is only a vague understanding of how to deal with the future. And if we never think or talk about the future in the heritage sector, how  can we recognise it when it comes?

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