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Cablegate: Pd Bucharest's Conference On Museum Management

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 001578

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/PPD (WALKER AND HARTLEY); IIP/G/EUR
(ELLISON) AND IIP/T/SV (SEBSOW); EUR/ACE (CERIALE/
FROMAN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KPAO RO
SUBJECT: PD BUCHAREST'S CONFERENCE ON MUSEUM MANAGEMENT
AND PROMOTING REGIONAL COOPERATION, JUNE 22-25

1. SUMMARY: FROM JUNE 22-25, PD BUCHAREST HOSTED A
SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR MORE THAN 90
MUSEUM DIRECTORS THAT PROMOTED REGIONAL COOPERATION AND
GAVE THEM PRACTICAL IDEAS ON HOW TO THRIVE AS CIVIC
INSTITUTIONS IN A MARKET ECONOMY. THE SEMINAR DIRECTOR,
DR. MARC PACHTER, ENSURED THAT PRESENTATIONS AND INFORMAL
DISCUSSIONS REMAINED FOCUSED ON THE THEMES. HE USED TO
GREAT EFFECT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE DEPARTMENT-FUNDED
SPEAKERS AS WELL AS THOSE SUPPORTED BY OUR CO-SPONSOR,
THE FUND FOR ARTS AND CULTURE TO EDUCATE THE MUSEUM
REPRESENTATIVES AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ON STRATEGIES
AND TECHNIQUES ON FUNCTIONING IN A MARKET ECONOMY. THE
SUCCESS OF THE SEMINAR WAS EVIDENT FROM THE FEEDBACK
RECEIVED FROM THE PARTICIPANTS - 90 PERCENT OF THEM
INDICATED THAT THE INFORMATION PROVIDED WAS VERY USEFUL
AND ADDRESSED THEIR PROBLEMS/NEEDS. SECONDLY, THE
ROMANIAN MINISTRY OF CULTURE'S STATE SECRETARY FOR
MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS CAME TO BOTH THE EMBASSY AND TO THE
FUND FOR ARTS AND CULTURE WITH A PROPOSAL TO REPEAT THE
SEMINAR IN MINISTRY FACILITIES NEXT SPRING (2006).
FINALLY, MEDIA COVERAGE HELPED GET IMAGES AND MESSAGES
OUT TO ROMANIA'S MAJOR CITIES AS WELL AS TO NATIONAL
AUDIENCES FROM BUCHAREST-BASED OUTLETS, GENERATING
ADDITIONAL INTEREST AMONG THOSE WHO WERE NOT INVITED OR
UNABLE TO ATTEND THE PROGRAM. PD BUCHAREST THANKS BOTH
IIP AND PD SECTIONS IN THE REGION FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING
SUPPORT OF THIS PROGRAM. END SUMMARY.

90 PARTICIPANTS FROM 12 COUNTRIES

2. From June 22-25, PD Bucharest hosted a regional
seminar with the provocative title "Do Museums Matter:
Making the Case, Finding the Means." We sought to
advance MPP goals in civic institution building, economic
development in a free market, and promotion of regional
stability. Our strategy was to help museums become more
relevant to their communities and better equipped from a
management standpoint to thrive in a market economy. The
seminar drew a total of forty museum directors from
twelve countries in the region, as well as more than
fifty Romanian museum managers and GOR representatives
from across the country -- many more than we expected
when invitations first went out.

STRUCTURING THE SEMINAR FOR PRACTICAL RESULTS

3. Dr. Marc Pachter, the Director of the National
Portrait Gallery and Acting Director of the National
Museum of American History, gave the keynote address. He
spoke with practiced ease and verve. He briefly outlined
changes in the mission of museums from the nineteenth
century until today, and ended with the current
challenge: how to make museums not simply better
warehouses of artifacts, but better civic institutions,
capable of engaging families and other target audiences
with exhibits and programming. Pachter, a SEED-funded
and IIP-supported speaker, worked previously for USIA as
a senior cultural advisor. He clearly understood the
need for the seminar to produce practical, measurable
results. Consequently, he had all the speakers share
best practices and quickly get down to brass tacks on how
participants might share resources and programming to
better serve their communities.

INFORMAL DISCUSSION GROUPS EXPLORE SPEAKER TOPICS

4. The seminar's format had speakers deliver talks on
their area of expertise, and then lead informal
discussion groups where participants could air specific
problems, brainstorm solutions, and explore joint
activities. An excellent speaker/group leader was Dr.
Graham Beal, the Director of the Detroit Institute of
Art, and our second IIP-supported, SEED-funded, speaker.
Participant exchanges in Beal's group focused on finding
new sources of funding and other resources (e.g., free
utilities, in-kind contributions) as well as on several
other issues.

ADDITIONAL SPEAKERS PROVIDED BY THE FUND FOR ARTS AND
CULTURE

5. The Fund for Arts and Culture which co-funded this
event brought three additional speakers at its own
expense. They also provided high quality contributions
to the program. The first, Mr. Patrick Gallagher, is the
president of a leading U.S. design firm with long
experience in mounting permanent and temporary exhibits.
He spoke fluently on everything from structuring visitor
evaluation forms to creatively reusing aging display and
exhibition equipment to maximize cost savings. Gallagher,
together with a second Fund-supported speaker, Mr. Klaus
Muller, a museum designer and architect from Amsterdam,
gave an outstanding demonstration of how museums can
engage an audience that is indifferent or possibly
hostile to a given exhibition theme. Muller is currently
at work on a Dutch museum memorializing gays and lesbians
persecuted during the Nazi era. The museum's target
audience -- high school students - includes many Muslims
who are generally unsympathetic to homosexuals. Between
Muller's architectural expertise, and Gallagher's
knowledge of design, they walked the audience through
conceptualization of the exhibit - from the venue, to the
way the story of these people was told so as to
universalize their experiences of betrayal, arrest,
escape, survival, or dehumanization and death - and
helped the speakers themselves conceptualize the exhibit.
The seminar participants, many of whom were not favorably
disposed to this theme, were nevertheless impressed with
the effort and left with food for thought on how they
might mount politically difficult exhibits that would
nevertheless draw crowds.

STATE-SPONSORED INSTITUTIONS SUCCEEDING IN SPITE OF
BURDENSOME RESTRICTIONS

6. Miguel Fernandez, Director of Mexico's Museum of the
Viceroyalty, was the final Fund-supported speaker. His
topic was how to mobilize and motivate museum staff to
produce exhibits that draw larger audiences without new
objects or significant new funds. Fernandez has had
notable success in revitalizing his state-supported
museum despite flat budgets, restrictive labor laws, and
a bureaucracy that is often part of the problem. His
presentation resonated with many of the seminar
participants who face similar difficulties in their home
countries where state financing comes with a raft of
unhelpful regulations and limitations. Fernandez pursued
potential solutions to these problems in his discussion
group, overcoming limitations in his command of English
with the help of Marc Pachter.

RESULTS

7. PD Bucharest ran the overall program, but our co-
sponsor, The Fund for Arts and Culture, supplied the
talent for the substantive elements for this highly
successful seminar. We found the presentations of these
consultants to be uniformly outstanding. The seminar
leaders demonstrated that, at least in the seminar's
structured environment, this region's museums can work
together to solve mutual problems, share success
formulas, and brainstorm joint projects of mutual
benefit. The participants got right to work, little time
was lost "ice-breaking," and many wanted a follow-up
conference to focus in greater depth on specifics such as
fund-raising and grant writing. After hearing of the
success of "Friends of the Museum Associations" from
Romanians who developed such groups under a previous
grant from PD Bucharest, most participants agreed that
this was one concrete step they would pursue upon return
to their home countries.

8. The Romanian Ministry of Culture offered its
unconditional support from the very beginning for this
colloquium. The Ministry of Culture's Secretary of
State, Virgil Nitulescu, who spoke at the opening
session, had invited his counterparts to participate in
the conference, and several accepted his invitation. The
Ministry of Culture also put at the conference's disposal
its main conference room for the presentation of an IT
project called "Ethnography on Line", which was created
by Romanian Village Museum for local use. The colloquium
only strengthened the initiative and will to transform
this IT project into a regional IT tool of cooperation in
this domain. The enthusiasm of participants and the
success of the seminar, which was obvious even before the
end of its debates, also lead to the idea, proposed by
the Ministry of Culture, that a similar event be held
next year.

9. In Romania, PD was able to generate much press for the
conference. The cultural TV station TVRM, a major
financial daily Ziarul Financiar (cir.35, 000), the
cultural magazine Flacara, and Romanian state television
RTV all extensively featured the conference in their
reporting. The correspondent to Romania for the South-
East European Times is working from the material
dedicated to the event for an article that will run
regionally. And, the Dow-Jones correspondent to Romania
also interviewed PAO Mark Wentworth and speaker Marc
Pachter and we are expecting an article to run on their
service in the near future.

10. COMMENT:

-- PD Bucharest highly recommends IIP-supported speakers
Marc Pachter and Graham Beal to the Department and other
posts for any museum-related programming. Both are easy-
going, practiced, engaging presenters, who are readily
approachable and concerned to fit their presentations to
the needs of seminar participants.

-- PD Bucharest would be pleased to share in greater
detail the planning and organizational details, as well
as other materials produced for the conference with
interested posts. Please contact Cultural Assistant
Isabella Alexandrescu (alexandrescuI@state.gov) or PAO
Mark Wentworth (Wentworthm@state.gov) if interested.

-- We greatly appreciate cooperation from staff of posts
which sent participants and made this such a success. We
would also welcome posts' feedback once they have a
chance to debrief conference participants. END COMMENT.
Taplin

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