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CAM Triennial Conference
CAM Triennial Conference
CAM Group Photo
CAM Conference Martin Segger
CAM Group Photo
CAM Conference Mike Gondwe
Our History

CAM is an accredited Commonwealth Organisation established at an ICOM meeting in Denmark in 1974. Although no longer funded by the Commonwealth, CAM continues to support the role of culture in development and promote Commonwealth values: democracy; human rights; international peace and security; tolerance, respect and understanding; freedom of expression; separation of powers; rule of law; good governance; sustainable development; protecting the environment; access to health, education, food and shelter; gender equality; importance of young people in the Commonwealth; recognition of the needs of small states; recognition of the needs of vulnerable states; and the role of civil society. From the beginning, CAM’s membership included individuals and institutions throughout the Commonwealth as well as in non-Commonwealth nations that share similar values.

The relationship between CAM, as an Affiliated Organisation (AO), and ICOM has also evolved. Since 1992, CAM’s events have been held apart from ICOM’s in order to reach more members in developing nations, however, CAM continues to collaborate with ICOM where appropriate. CAM moved from London, United Kingdom to Calgary, Canada in 1985 and initiated the Distance Learning Programme in Basic Museum Studies which has proven beneficial to museum workers in communities with little access to professional development locally. In 1997, with the support of the Canadian government, CAM introduced the International Internship Programme, sending Canadian graduates to work in institutions in Africa, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, India, and the UK.

Decolonising History Through Museum Practices

Since the 1990s, CAM has had a particular focus on decolonisation, initially the challenges in working with collections that had been established by colonial administrators, and over the years on Indigenous curatorship, cultural property law, and most recently human remains management and repatriation. The Group for Children in African Museums (GCAM) was a network of people interested in making museums ‘children-friendly’ that operated in Africa from 1997-2011. CAM encouraged museums to use their resources, their collections, exhibitions, programmes and expertise to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and now encourages museums to support the Sustainable Development Goals. For nearly 50 years, CAM has provided a forum in which museums can address the legacy of colonisation.

For more information about our history

Vision, Mission, Mandate

Vision

CAM is a network of postcolonial museums that reflects on colonial legacies and develops new international relationships and working practices

Mission

CAM is an international NGO that empowers museums and museum professionals to use their resources – their collections, exhibitions, programmes, and expertise – to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mandate

CAM administers a Distance Learning Programme; develops international internships and exchanges; organises international conferences and regional workshops; implements demonstration projects on shared issues (such as Indigenous rights, reconciliation, migration, climate change, and gender equality).

Organization Information
Patrons

The late Nelson Mandela, then President South Africa and Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal of Guyana, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, became CAM patrons in 1997. Mandela, a symbol of political democracy, racial justice, truth and reconciliation, recognised “the conservation of all our legacies as a priority for nation building. Museums should reflect a message of tolerance and peace, of respect for all cultures and for the environment.” Ramphal had been the second Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1975 to 1990 and was at the time Chief Negotiator for the Caribbean on regional economic issues. Ramphal commended CAM “on its initiatives to enrich the lives of people by educating them about their history and heritage through the development of museums, because I know that this will have a profound effect, particularly in the developing countries.” CAM President Emanuel Arinze said, “Peace, which will become a critical issue in the next century demands that museums must begin to prepare themselves to contribute significantly to the attainment of sustainable peace globally.”

Cowrie Circle

Cowrie Circle members are honoured for their substantial and lengthy contributions to CAM and to museums in their own country, as well as involvement in regional or international museum communities:

Kim Outten Stubbs is the Chief Curator at the National Museum of The Bahamas and during her tenure the National Museum established the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation, the Balcony House Museum, the San Salvador Museum and the Long Island Museum. Kim served on the Executive of CAM from 2003-2017. She was an executive member of the Museums Association of the Caribbean. Outten Stubbs has two masters degrees, one from the State University of New York at Albany in African and African American Studies and the other from University College, University of London in Museum Studies. She is a member of the 2012 Class of the American Association of State and Local History Seminar in Historical Administration.

Alissandra Cummins is Director of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society and a lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the West Indies. She is a former Vice-President of CAM and Chair of the ICOM Advisory Council and President (2004-2010), the first female president and the first to serve from the Caribbean. She is a leading expert on Caribbean heritage, museum development and art. She has served in various leadership capacities within UNESCO since 2003, including as the Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board (2011-2013) She is board chair of International Journal of Intangible Heritage, and a member of the board of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and the International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship. She was educated at Queen’s College, Barbados, the University of East Anglia (BA, History of Art) and the University of Leicester (MA, Museum Studies).

Rooksana Omar was President of CAM from 2011-2017 and Past-President from 2017-2020. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Iziko Museums of South Africa, where she provides leadership and strategic direction to 11 museums, a planetarium and the Social History Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a Director on the Groote Constantia Trust and a member of the Castle Control Board. Rooksana has a BA (Hons) in History and a MBA from the University of Durban-Westville. In 2001 to 2003 she was the President of the South African Museums Association (SAMA). She has also served as an Executive Board Member of the International Commission on Museums in South Africa (2006-2008) and President of ICOM-South Africa (2010-2013), and was appointed to the Ethics Committee of the International Council of Museums (ETHCOM) in 2017. She has extensive experience in transforming heritage institutions in the post-apartheid era.

Martin Segger was president pro-tem of CAM from 2011-2013. He retired as Director, Art Collections and Galleries, Professor for Renaissance Studies and Museum Studies in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and founding academic supervisor for the international Cultural Resources Management Programme at the University of Victoria. He was an Alderman for the City of Victoria and served on the boards of numerous heritage organizations, including the Canadian Museums Association. He holds a B.A. in English Literature, a Diploma of Education (Secondary Curriculum) from the University of Victoria, and a Master of Philosophy in Renaissance Cultural Studies from the Warburg Institute, University of London.

Lois Irvine retired as Secretary-General of CAM in December 2012, a position she had held since 1995. She was active in the organization for nearly 30 years, serving as Secretary from 1983-1989, President from 1989-1992, and Past-President from 1992-1995. In addition to her work with CAM, Lois was active in ICOM ICTOP (the International Committee for the Training of Personnel), as well as working as a consultant on several international projects. She worked at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary from 1969-1990, including as Assistant Director, Policy and Human Resources, 1986-1990 and Executive Assistant to the Director, 1980-1986. She Chaired the Canadian Museums Human Resource Planning Committee from 1992 to 1997.

Dr. Richard Leakey is chairman of the board of the Kenya Wildlife Service. The recipient of many international awards, he is a former Director of the National Museum of Kenya and was central to Kenyanising the institution. He formed the Kenya Museum Associates (now Kenya Museum Society) in 1967. He founded the NGO WildlifeDirect and is the chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service. He is a palaeoanthropologist, conservationist and politician.

Reginald J. Varney served as Secretary, Vice-President and long-time London Representative to the Commonwealth until 1999.

Catherine Antomarchi (ICCROM-PREMA & ICCROM in Asia)

Mwimanji Chellah, Zambia

Gael de Guichen, Italy (ICCROM-PREMA)

Secretary-General

Ann Ramsden CAM Sec Gen

Ms. Ramsden has been the Executive Director of the Arts and Heritage Foundation for the City of St. Albert since 2013, where she previously served as the Director of Heritage and before that as Collections Manager for the Musée Héritage Museum and St Albert Heritage Sites. She has also worked for Museums and Collections Services at the University of Alberta and the Royal Alberta Museum.

Ms. Ramsden has a Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, an MSc in Human Ecology with a specialisation in Conservation from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, and a BSc in Institutional Management from the University of Wales, UK. She immigrated to Canada in 1990.

A long-time CAM member, Ms. Ramsden was a partner in the CAM research project on Participatory Governance in Museums. She is the past-president of the Rotary Club of St. Albert and a former board member of the Alberta Museums Association. Since 2013 she has participated in the Roundtable for Museum Executives.

For further information, contact:

Ann Ramsden, Secretary-General, commonwealthmuseums@gmail.com; 1-780 651 5740

Board of Directors and Secretary-General Ex-Officio

Board Of Directors

Rachel Erickson - Morongwa Mosothwane - Dr Asma Ibrahim - Nirvana Persaud - Louisa Nnenna Onuoha - Catherine Cole

The current Board of Directors were announced in March 2020 at the Commonwealth Association of Museums Triennial conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Catherine Cole was Secretary-General from January 2013 to March 2020. Additional board members absent from the conference are listed below.

CAM Group Photo Cape Town 2020

Our Network

Our professional network allows for one of a kind collaborations and special projects. We provide opportunities for museum professionals at all levels. From developing technical skills, to regional approaches and cultural diplomacy; the Commonwealth Association of Museums exists to promote cooperation between the modern museum professionals grappling with challenges from the colonial past and exposing how history impacts life today.

Our Members

Our membership extends throughout the Commonwealth and around the world, with many active members from non-Commonwealth nations. How can we learn from our shared past to build a better future? Post-colonial museology involves democratising history by empowering marginalised communities to speak out. We stand against oppressors by pushing for truth in museums.

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