Today, May 18, 2021, and for the second year in a row, the world celebrates the International Museum Day that the International Council of Museums approved in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has affected museums across the globe, including the workforce of this huge sector, particularly due to the suspension of museum visits or the reduction of the number of museum visitors to the minimum. This situation has had a negative impact on museums, their staff, and all related sectors such as crafts and assisting professions. Thus, a new reality has been imposed upon itself to which requires readiness to tackle all the ensuing repercussions.
Being aware of the consequences and effects of this pandemic in all walks of life, including the cultural field, the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) launched its Digital Home Initiative and the Distance Culture Initiative as a contribution to providing access to the sources of knowledge and culture during and after the pandemic. The Organization has also inaugurated its Virtual Museum, which is a platform for virtual visits to heritage sites and museums in the several Member States. Besides, ICESCO held many training sessions in the fields of heritage and museum management and has started taking the necessary technical measures to launch the interactive portal for heritage in the Islamic world.
Moreover, ICESCO has spared no effort to implement its new vision for protecting, preserving, rehabilitating, and sustaining heritage. It established the Heritage Center, which includes the Section of Museums and Movable Heritage entrusted with providing technical support to museums in the Islamic world, rehabilitating museum staff and building the national capacities in the field of museum management to achieve sustainable development. ICESCO is taking the necessary measures to launch the Islamic Art Museums Network, which will be entrusted with developing a framework for cooperation and partnership between museums around the world.
In addition, ICESCO launched its programme of financial support of one million dollars for the benefit of the museums that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 20 museums from the Member States have applied for this support. ICESCO has also allocated financial support to the museums and heritage sites that were damaged as a result of the Beirut explosion and the floods in the Sudan, in 2020. ICESCO is participating in the establishment of the Moroccan Intangible Heritage Museum in Jemaa El Fna Square in Marrakesh.
In fulfilling its role in protecting and anticipating the future of heritage and museums after the pandemic, ICESCO will prepare a comprehensive study on the future of museums and the scenarios for the persistence of the pandemic, in light of the new emerging professions and the need of museums for such professions, especially the digital ones. The study will also touch on the role of modern technology in museum management and museum exhibitions, as well as the role of museums in developing local communities, promoting heritage preservation, and achieving sustainable development goals.