Dear ICMM Colleagues and Friends,
In this time of unprecedented international crisis relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, first of all we hope that you, your families, your friends and work colleagues are all safe and healthy. If any of you have fallen ill with the coronavirus, or have been personally impacted in any way (for example, by a family member or friend falling ill) we are thinking of you and send very best wishes for a speedy recovery.
We also stand in solidarity with friends and colleagues in Asia who have been living with the impact of the virus and lockdown measures for much longer than the rest of us here in Europe and the Americas, where the crisis has only hit us in the past few weeks. Across the world the huge restrictions governments have been forced to put in place as public health measures have impacted each and every one of us on a personal and an institutional level in a way not witnessed since the Second World War. Many of us have been forced to close the doors of our wonderful maritime museums which, for institutions which are designed to engage with many public audiences, is very distressing. Difficult financial times may lie ahead for many of us.
It feels very hard, when dark days are still ahead of us in many countries, to feel positive about the future. But all we can do at this time is to go forward with hope and to try to make a difference where we can. Now more than ever is the time when the rich cultural resources of museums around the world can play a small part in providing both solace and welcome distraction to society.
There are things that we can do to make a positive contribution to this bleak situation. We can use modern technology to engage with our audiences in new ways online, repurposing or creating new digital content such as virtual tours or home-schooling tools, if we have the resources (and we do appreciate that not everyone does); we can keep our precious maritime collections safe and keep our staff morale up as much as we can; we can share our common challenges and the innovative solutions that we have come up with during this period of crisis. Furthermore, some of our members across the world are finding practical ways to help our respective health systems, such as donating personal protective equipment used in Conservation departments (e.g. masks & nitrile gloves) to local hospitals, or volunteering with community associations to help vulnerable members of society.
ICMM’s strength has always been its strong network of members and the comradeship built up between individuals. Now is the time when we must support and be kind to each other. So whether you are a Director of a museum or an Associate member, by pooling ideas and online resources at this moment of crisis, or by simply being in contact, we can share the burden and look to the future.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to post our members’ and other maritime heritage news, but will also now include a round-up of the best maritime heritage-related articles, videos and online collection tours shared by our members over the last month, as well as new content being produced during the COVID-19 crisis. We will also provide a regular round-up some of the fantastic, creative and educational projects for kids that maritime museums worldwide have been sharing on their social media pages. Do send any news you would like to share to ICMM Administrator Kathryn Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are not on social media.
If you’re not already following us on Facebook and Twitter, please do so – we’re @MaritimeMuseums on both. And don’t forget our members-only Facebook Group – it’s the perfect place for you to discuss the issues facing your museum or institution with fellow maritime heritage professionals. For those of you not on Facebook we will explore other ways we might be able to connect everyone.
These are unprecedented times for everyone, but ICMM is here to connect and support you. Now is not the time but in the next issue of the newsletter, we will also update you on the work undertaken at the recent annual ICMM Executive Council meeting, which took place here in Bristol as the crisis unfolded a few weeks ago. In the meantime, stay well in these turbulent and challenging times, and please feel free to connect with us directly (email addresses below) if you would like to.
on behalf of the whole ICMM Executive Council.