Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage
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Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage

Law and Heritage

Edited by Charlotte Waelde, Catherine Cummings, Mathilde Pavis and Helena Enright

Bringing together key insights from expert legal and heritage academics and practitioners, this book explores the existence and safeguarding of contemporary forms of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Providing a detailed analysis of the international legal frameworks relevant to ICH, the contributing authors then go on to challenge the pervasive view that heritage is about ‘old’ tangible objects by highlighting the existence, role and importance of contemporary forms of ICH to modern society.
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Chapter 12: ICH and safeguarding: museums and contemporary ICH (let the objects out of their cases and make them sing)

Catherine Cummings


The twenty-first century museum, as a social and civic space, has shifted and diversified its practice from being a gatekeeper of tangible cultural heritage to new inclusive practices of participation and collaboration that place an emphasis on community involvement and developing relationships and networks with communities: the museum as a cultural centre and the museum as a creative workshop. This chapter addresses the relationship between the museum, contemporary intangible cultural heritage and the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It demonstrates how contemporary ICH, whether part of the authorised heritage discourse or not, has been implemented in many ways in museums: through collections research, exhibitions, through communication, workshops, outreach and education and in doing so has helped the twenty-first century museum become a contact zone in the sharing, dissemination, transmission and implementation of contemporary ICH, one of the most important recommendations of the 2003 Convention

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