Message from the President
It has been already two years of continued challenge for all modern and contemporary art museums, collections, and the professionals working in them. We have all had to go through an almost 360º transformation in the way we do our jobs – research, exchanging, visiting, meeting, traveling, installing.
In 2021, our focus has been on supporting our members as they dealt with a new reality. We continued offering safe online spaces for members to meet and support one another through the Rapid Response Webinars – a program that we are keeping for 2022.
We encouraged participation and provided inspiring resources by fostering exchange and participation among affiliated professionals, an example of this is the key report produced with the contribution of CIMAM members about Why should museums remain open and operational? highlighting the relevance of museums and their roles in their local contexts launched in January 2021.
We have also released the Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability in the Museum Practice that will be updated twice a year with the latest advancements in the field and which aims to help contemporary art museum professionals to start implementing the necessary changes to become carbon neutral.
Throughout the year, we kept our focus on our values and best practices, advocating for museums and the individuals working in them through the Museum Watch Program. The first edition of the Oustanding Museum Practices Award took place in 2021, intending to promote best practices and to give visibility to the great work that modern and contemporary art institutions are conducting during these difficult times.
And thanks to the powerful support of Travel Grant Funders – The Getty Foundation, V-A-C Foundation, Byucksan Foundation, Ms. Mercedes Vilardell, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway – this year we were able to give support to 50 professionals from around the world to take part and attend the 2021 Annual Conference that was held hybrid for the first time in CIMAM’s history in Lodz and Gdansk, Poland.
In connection with the title of the 2021 meeting, Under Pressure. Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency, I would like to remind you that we all have to learn ways to de-pressure, how to relieve pressure from ourselves. Because looking back over the last two years, we have all been under pressure. Coming together in Poland and hearing different experiences and thoughts, reminding us that we all went through a very tough year, professionally, institutionally, and also on a personal level. Being constantly under pressure, particularly for some of us who are in a leadership position and have to pretend that we have endless, positive energy to give to our staff and the institution, I think we are allowed to de-pressure and take good care of ourselves.
The coming year promises to be a busy and eventful one, not only because CIMAM commemorates its 60th anniversary in 2022, but also because a recovery seems to slowly start beginning. And in that sense, I want to give credit to my enthusiastic and committed co-Board members who have dedicated so many hours to this organization, contributing with their expertise and conceptual resources, as well as to the executive team who had the power to adapt and give their best in such uncertain times.
CIMAM has proved to be a relevant resource for our more than 650 professionals that are part of and at the heart of this organization.
I am honored too by the 11 individuals and institutions that support CIMAM year after year. Our beloved Founding Patrons, Patrons, and Supporters whose contribution is at the core of the continuity, the success, and the existence of CIMAM. We are touched by their trust and faithful support of CIMAM.
We remain grateful for your support and partnership and are eager to explore the ways we can work together to build a stronger, more sustainable, and relevant museum community – a diverse community where everyone’s voices are heard together.
February 22, 2022
President of CIMAM
Director, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Dear friends of CIMAM,
It is an honor to address you at the end of my first year as President of CIMAM.
COVID-19 has turned 2020 into a very difficult year for the entire professional community dedicated to directing and developing modern and contemporary art museums. The global pandemic that still confronts us today has made evident an urgent need to rethink and reinvent much of what has been taken for granted until now.
We have seen our institutions’ mission and their relevance to communities’ social development challenged. We are witnessing an increase in unprecedented and questionable budget cuts in cultural institutions. And sadly, it is more common every day to hear of new cases of political and governance tensions that have led to the mismanagement of museums and directors being dismissed, even in exemplary institutions around the world. Poland, Serbia, Bolivia, Mexico, South Africa, and Slovenia are some of the cases that were addressed by the CIMAM Museum Watch Committee in 2020, aiming to foster and endorse international standards of best practice for museums.
For CIMAM itself, it has also been a year of readjustments and new projects to ensure we continue supporting the community of professionals that we represent.
In April 2020, we decided to postpone the Annual Conference, our primary project that provides the essential values of networking, knowledge, and exchange of experiences for our members. To achieve CIMAM’s mission of raising awareness and respond to the evolving needs of modern and contemporary museums, in May we started a series of Rapid Response Webinars that addressed crucial issues and concerns shared by museum professionals in different regions of the world as a result of this global crisis from the perspective of the contemporary art museum.
Moderated by CIMAM Board Members and with seventeen exceptional guests, the webinars have helped strengthen our platform for support, exchange, and inspiration in museum management methodologies on a peer-to-peer level.
Complementing this initiative, CIMAM presented in April a document with Precautions for Museum during the Covid-19 pandemic, a list of considerations for the reopening of museums according to the experience of Asian museums. Working as a reference for other institutions around the world, this document was extremely well received internationally.
The eleven nominations submitted for the Outstanding Museum Practices in Times of Global Crisis program are also a new initiative that aims to become a repository for inspiring projects that help others through this health crisis. They are all posted on CIMAM’s website: I encourage you to take a look.
In this exceptional year, one of the most well-known programs of CIMAM, the Travel Grants, has had to become an online one. CIMAM ran for the first time a StayHome Curatorial Online Residency generously supported by OCA – Office for Contemporary Art, Norway. Three professionals from Sámi and diaspora backgrounds residing in Norway took part in this experimental yet very successful initiative. The same grantees will also attend the 2021 Annual Conference in Poland.
These are only some of the new initiatives started by CIMAM in 2020 and I want to thank the CIMAM Board for their close involvement and the executive office team for coordinating them.
Also, to members of CIMAM who make the opportunity for debate, reflection, and daily stimulation a reality. Thank you for contributing so much with your expertise, critical views, companionship, and professionalism.
And above all, I want to express our special thanks and gratitude to our patrons. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Thank you sincerely for your trust and commitment to CIMAM.
In such a difficult time for our profession, I encourage you to remain united and to continue learning from each other with optimism and imagination to overcome this crisis. It is our responsibility as professionals in the global community for museums of modern and contemporary art to confront this situation through solidarity.
I hope we can see each other soon again, either in one of our new online programs or in person this coming November 2021.
Mami Kataoka, President of CIMAM
Director, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
At the end of a very successful CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference in Sydney, I was honored to be voted President of CIMAM by the Members of the Board. I am delighted that Suzanne Cotter was elected as Secretary-Treasurer. Together with our very experienced and engaged CIMAM Board, and together with the more than 600 CIMAM members from 86 different countries (an all-time record!), I am excited to see how CIMAM can contribute to the museum community and contemporary society in the next three years.
The outgoing President for the period of 2017–19, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, who hosted the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference, was made an Honorary Member of CIMAM in gratitude for her dedication and important contribution.
Titled The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything?, this year's conference addressed the evolving relationship between core museological practices and values, and the necessary responsiveness of museums to context in their drive to remain relevant, innovative, and accessible. Attended by over 200 directors and curators of modern and contemporary art museums from around the world, speakers and participants could discuss issues of common concern, meet with other peers and colleagues, and learn about the local artists of the hosting city.
The world surrounding museums of modern and contemporary art is extremely complex with diverse contexts. If museums are a transformative and active agency for reflecting this world in which we are living, all of the issues we discussed in Sydney during the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference, such as decolonization, new meanings of collection in relationship with the art market, sustainability, ethics and funding, and museum activity beyond the object, wall, and building, must be discussed continuously on the CIMAM platform.
CIMAM was founded in 1962 as one of the International Committees of ICOM. Since 2015, CIMAM has been an Affiliated Organization of ICOM, securing higher independence and flexibility in the management of the organization. In the meantime, those extended discussions around climate change and sustainability, ethics, freedom of expression, and democracy must be deepened within the larger museum community in partnership with ICOM.
The presence at our meeting of Ms. Suay Aksoy, President of ICOM, was especially significant in emphasizing our positive and collaborative relationship while reinforcing the common values and objectives that connect our organizations. One of our goals for the next triennial will be to activate new partnerships between CIMAM and ICOM’s network of International Committees and Affiliated Organizations.
I am thrilled to be the first non-European President in the history of CIMAM. This is a reflection and expectation of the fact that CIMAM should be a truly global organization of modern and contemporary art museum professionals across the world.
I would like to finish by thanking again Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and her team for the energy and dedication to make this conference a success and the many individuals and institutions that made possible the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference and post-tour to Brisbane & North Stradbroke Island. I am also deeply grateful to the travel grant funders that generously supported the attendance of 24 young professionals and the dozens of international participants who traveled from all over the world to Sydney to take part in this important meeting.
The members of the board and I are all very much looking forward to developing further CIMAM’s network and leadership role in promoting good practices in the modern and contemporary art museum profession. Our members are our essence and I hope we can count on their involvement to continue building a strong CIMAM that can lead the discussions and provide new perspectives to answer to the challenges that museums are and will be facing in the years to come.
I look forward to welcoming you all to Łódź and Gdańsk in Poland in November 2020.
President of CIMAM
Director, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Thursday, December 5, 2019