Maria José Chavarría Zamora

Chavarría, Maria José.jpg

I joined CIMAM in 2010, but for several reasons, I had never been able to attend one of the Annual Conferences. This time I was able to organize my schedule of activities at the Museum of Costa Rican Art in Costa Rica and decided to apply for the grant.

Having the opportunity to travel to Singapore and meeting hundreds of professionals from museums around the world has been an enriching experience in several ways.

In the first place, it was very interesting to get to know an artistic scene so culturally diverse, and in some cases contrasting from the Latin American scene, or more specifically the Central American one. Relating these experiences both at the level of artistic infrastructure and the use of resources with the realities closest to our geographical surroundings, allows us to value many of our known spaces and learn from the experiences of others.

On the one hand, my work as a curator of a state museum in Costa Rica consists on preserving and making visible an art collection that goes from the end of the 19th century until the present. At the same time, we must study, expand, question and strengthen what has been constructed as the official art history in Costa Rica. It is a museum that works with public funds and that also symbolically fights against the imaginary that it has built.

It is for this reason that many of the talks at the conference were very enriching, in the sense that it is possible to know how other institutions, some of the great museums of the world and smaller and local ones, deal with problems that can be considered global. For me, the third day was particularly interesting, it covered the topic "What do museums collect, and how?" and how the issue of censorship has been confronted by a large number of museums in the world. Having people on the panel who have had to resolve conflicts of this kind firsthand in different cultural and geographical contexts, allows you to learn that as museums we have all faced similar problems.

On the other hand, I met many colleagues from Latin American museums, as well as from many other countries in Europe, Asia and others, who otherwise I would have hardly had the opportunity to meet all at once and in one place. This makes the CIMAM Annual Conference an incredible opportunity in two different manners: expanding knowledge on issues related to your daily work and also building a network of colleagues from museums that not only strengthen your work, but also build friendship bonds. It is definitely an experience to repeat.