Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Global Citizenship

Windmill, National Museum of Australia.

Gina Fairley, Global citizenship double-edged sword for museums, ArtsHub, 28 January 2016

Modern museums often want to be global citizens but there are risks of homogenization and challenges from national agendas.

Globalisation over the past decade has resulted in a boom in new art centres, museums and biennales – particularly in Asia – and a flow assisted by cheaper travel and technology. Artists and institutions embraced the need to think globally in creative work and critical dialogue.

Global citizenship takes that a step further. Its premise is that one primarily identifies as part of an interdependent, global community rather than as a citizen of a country or member of a local community.

Museums have – by default – become platforms that promote global citizenship. But are they just following academic fashion or is there a specific role and responsibility for art as a global citizen educators? It was a topic discussed at last week’s Southeast Asian Forum hosted by Art Stage Singapore – with ambivalent outcomes.

Pros and cons

According to the UN’s Global Education First Initiative, ‘global citizenship education provides the understanding, skills, and values that students (and more broadly all communities) need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, conflict, poverty, hunger, and issues of equity and sustainability.

Some might argue that art has always done that.

But traditionally, museums have shaped societies, defined identity, and created civic pride. As nations have become more hybrid and diverse, they have adjusted to remain relevant to their societies. Now with a more international culture, that adjustment is creating a convergence​.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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