Lucimara Letelier is the founder of Museu Vivo (Live Museum), a collaborative platform fostering innovation and economic sustainability in the museum sector through initiatives and consultancy combining museums, sustainability, and new economies.
Lucimara has extensive experience in development, fundraising, marketing, as well as arts management and has worked and consulted with more than 30 museums and nonprofit organizations. She is a vibrant facilitator and teacher in MBA programs in Museums and Arts Management in Brazil and the ICOM Training Center in China with Museum Branding and Audience Engagement.
Previously, she was the Deputy Director Arts for the British Council and Head of Fundraising at ActionAid, both in Brazil. Lucimara graduated in Marketing and Communications, Master in Arts Administration at Boston University and Design in Sustainability at Gaia Education. She is also a Board member at ICOM Brasil and ICOM MPR.
Lucimara was kind enough to share the text and images from her recent presentation at MuseumNext London
entitled "Is Your Museum Alive?"
with ExhibiTricks readers. As the MuseumNext conference celebrated its 10 year anniversary, trends and ideas were discussed with new voices and perspectives regarding whether a museum is (or is not) contributing to a regenerative culture in a world in transition.
Lucimara Letelier was one of these voices at MuseumNext and was the only Latin American speaker there. She presented a more holistic and systemic perspective with her talk below.
IS YOUR MUSEUM ALIVE?
I see museums dying everyday and everywhere.
It is not necessarily due to financial crises or it does not mean they are closing their doors. It means a profound disconnection and lack of relevance.
As much as this can sound sad, I see it as a great chance of a rebirth. In all living systems, something has to die, in order for a new life to be born.
Have you seen this Oscar-winning animation called “Coco”? In this story happening on the Day of the Dead in Mexico, you are dead only when people stop remembering you. Until then, you are still alive, but in the “world of the dead”….
It makes me think…. What does it take for a museum to be alive?
Looking into the evolution of museums, what made a museum alive in the past evolved from collections preservation to Audience Growth and Experience, Diversity and Inclusion… And Now, community engagement is the hot spot! Great! But, for what?
I see we spend a lot of energy discussing what we do and how we do it, but now the crucial question for museums is WHY we do it.
That question is not disconnected from you.
Why you do what you do, in your museum? How do you feel alive as a museum professional?
Social innovators start with why, and this is what inspires others to join them ..
In the museums sector, I feel there is a new “why” emerging.
A new purpose, a new role, which makes a museum truly alive!
Now, more than ever, museums are required to collaborate with a larger movement to earth regeneration. A new vision, a new set of values, a new culture of living is required, which is part of the core business of museums, anyway...
Listening to museums managers, many feel like in the “Coco” movie, living in the world of the dead, but somehow feeling something bigger and more relevant their museums could embrace to be back to life.
Have you felt like that before?
Museums in the Global South and in the Global North have responded to that call in different ways.
Museums professionals awakening and turning their museums into change makers! Museums as key players to reframe cultural paradigms that will change the world for the better and for everyone.
Where to start?
If you are seeking an inspiration, I am bringing here a case from Brazil. Alemberg Quindins, the Director of the "Kariri Museum" (Memorial do Homem Kariri) says: “The beginning of everything is the absence” …And perhaps this is where many museums are today. Think about what topics, contemporary issues, and territories, the museums you work with are currently absent of…
Working with museums in the Global South, I see many stories of resilience we can share. Urgency is clear to us, due to the challenging environment we face there. And community engagement is central to our identity.
Thus, let me tell you more about the Kariri Museum. It is located in a region with one of the worst Human Development Indexes in Brazil.
The Museum is managed by children. Its co-director, Yasmin Pereira, is 13 years old and became part of the museum 3 hours after she was born. The museum started with a budget of 50 Dollars per month and became a remarkable case of creative economy. It catalyzes social business by training local families to start up bed and breakfast accommodations for tourists and local coffee shops, it created a methodology of “organic museums”, in which they musealize people’s houses and empower the community to be the curators, reconnecting with their local indigenous memories. Many different houses became museums in the town and yet they continue to be families’ houses.
This museum helps to solve complex issues in education, social and economic development.
When I talked to the director, why he does it, he said: “Our museum is a living body with its heart beating with the hearts of its place and people.” The lessons we learn with the daily practices of the Kariri museum are a lifelong methodology that many museums around the globe are searching for in order to air their community engagement programs and bringing more authenticity, spontaneity, and affection to their museums.
When I look at the museums sector in the Global North, I see this urgent call been heard as well with the creation of collective networks for change! Awakened Museum Professionals like you catalyzing a vision of social impact and decolonization! Well, the work of a change maker can feel exhausting and lonely sometimes. It is the notion that we are not alone that keeps us walking and makes the real change as we move together!
If we look at this from a systemic view, it is basically:
YOU at the center, working together with US all responding to the urgency of NOW for a major CHANGE!
To sum it up…
To me, museums are alive if they connect with the people, its territory, and its urgencies, to drive deep change. People like you as museums professionals, as well as the visitors and the people whose stories we tell. We, as the “museums people” together, we are the living body of a museums ecosystem. We are responsible to make this system alive.
What about you? What makes your museum alive? What makes you alive in your museum?
The world is changing; we are in the transition team. Are you?
You can see a video of Lucimara's MuseumNext presentation on Vimeo.
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