Welcome from the President of CIMAM

Suhanya Raffel Portrait_Landscape - 1.jpg
Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

I write to welcome the new CIMAM Board of 2023–25 after another successful annual conference in November 2022 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain titled ‘The Attentive Museum’. The CIMAM membership has voted in a group of international colleagues that remind us of the reach of our growing community of organizations as we steadily open up our museums to welcome our audiences following the COVID-19 pandemic.

To serve as the next President of CIMAM is an honor and I am excited to work together with my fellow Board members to contribute to our modern and contemporary art museum community as we face a complex and challenging world.

The past three years have seen much tumult and division with the global pandemic adding a further degree of separation within our societies. In this context, the roles our museums play in bringing people together, with the work of artists providing necessary insight, vision, and perspective, has become ever more urgent. Understanding and listening to our local conditions are paramount. We provide vital public institutional spaces for our various audiences to explore a range of issues through our collections and exhibition programs. These audiences look to museums today as civic spaces that are trusted, while also being places for community gathering, learning, shelter, advocacy, and leisure.

Over the next three years, the CIMAM Board will continue to focus on our values, bringing our members together through online forums by continuing our Rapid Response Webinars, while deepening our commitment to building institutions that implement sustainability processes as we grapple with the climate crisis. The key Museum Watch program, a cornerstone of CIMAM, has built a vital advocacy role, supporting our colleagues while promoting strong and sustainable governance.

CIMAM’s relationship to ICOM will deepen too as we see the need to ensure that our various international museum communities include the modern and contemporary art museum work of connecting, and reconnecting, with broader institutional colleagues to discuss critical issues of ensuring the primacy, value, and safety of cultural collections. In the face of testing economic environments, which are regularly coupled with challenging political conditions, how we collectively navigate and support each other’s work is essential. The substantial work around museum governance can only be managed successfully with the ongoing protection of our collective cultural heritage. It is careful professional work that is undertaken through numerous avenues that many of us in CIMAM engage with as a matter of course.

At Palma de Mallorca, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of CIMAM and used this moment to reflect on our organization’s establishment in bringing together critical voices from the modern and contemporary art museum sector. At that time this was a collection of 23 European institutions. Today, we are a community of 740 members from 84 countries around the world, reflecting on the importance placed on building museums to house collections that speak of the necessary expansion of canonical histories, while being testaments to the diversity and creative currents of our many identities. We celebrate and share new scholarships and research through our institutions and use our annual conferences as a place to gather, network, and get to know each other as we build this vital community of global museum professionals.

We will be presenting the 2023 CIMAM annual conference in Buenos Aires and are returning to Argentina after 37 years. I sincerely thank Victoria Noorthoorn, Director of Museo Moderno, Buenos Aires for hosting this next conference together with the support of the Buenos Aires city government and a number of local foundations and individual colleagues, without whom this conference could not be possible. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Argentina as we will be seeing the work of an incredible creative community of artists, writers, poets, actors, and musicians to understand more closely this active creative community.

These annual conferences and the daily work of CIMAM would not be possible without the sincere commitment and contributions of our champions, including our Major Patrons, Founding Patrons, Patrons, and Supporters, who provide us with the means to continue CIMAM’s vital work. I sincerely thank them.

As we embark on the next three years, on behalf of the incumbent Board, I want to thank all the members of the outgoing CIMAM Board and President Mami Kataoka, who worked together so diligently and collegially during a period of incredible stress and challenge. This group of colleagues was amazing to work with and proved how it is possible to support, and provide ways of connecting, sharing, and problem solving at a time when we could not physically come together.

I now look forward to working with you all to further strengthen and bring together our diverse communities through CIMAM.

18 December 2022

Suhanya Raffel
President of CIMAM 2023-25
Director, M+, Hong Kong