International Association of Labour Museums – Worklab
Minutes of the founding meeting of Worklab at The Workers’ Museum, August 15, 1997
MT – Dr. Myna Trustram, Keeper of Collections, National Museum of Labour History, Manchester, UK.
JF – Dr. Jürgen Ellemeyer, Curator, Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg, Germany.
SB – Sara Bengtzon, Head of Information, Arbetets Museum, Norrköping, Sweden.
PL – Peter Ludvigsen, Director, Arbejdermuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
ALW- Anne-Lise Walsted, Head of Department, Arbejdermuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
VAS – Annette Vasström, Head of Department, Arbejdermuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
1. General discussion on the basis of co-operation within Worklab
2. Discussion of the constitution
3. Election of committee
Item 1. General discussion on the basis of co-operation within Worklab
Peter Ludvigsen opened the meeting and bid welcome to the participants. He informed them that several museums had expressed an interest in participating in the group, namely museums from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium and USA.
PL emphasized that several networks, dealing with workers and industrialization, already exist, e.g. IALHI, TICCIH and CIMUSET, but none of these groups are especially orientated towards museums dealing in the history of the working class and the labour movement. IALHI has been a common platform for research into the labour movement in an international context. It also has a special museum section; it lacks, however, specific museums expertise. CIMUSET, which belongs to a group of museums under ICOM, is far more knowledgeable in this matter.
While arranging larger joint European exhibitions The Workers’ Museum in Copenhagen has, however, become aware of the lack of a network within industrial and workers’ museums, e.g. a supporting group which can back up on application for mutual projects to e.g. the EU. This is the background to the invitation to join the Worklab project. Worklab could offer a structure for collaborating, not only within Europe, but world wide.
The participating museums support the idea of Worklab. Both the National Museum of Labour History and the Arbetets Museum have experienced how difficult it is top raise funds for larger joint projects like for instance Edvard Munch “The Soul of Work” and “Work in Europe”. In such cases an organization like Worklab could have supported applications and provided contacts in the EU.
As far as the name of the organization is concerned there was unanimity that the acronym Worklab was appropriate and concise. PL explained that Worklab not only is an acronym for WORK, but also indicates progress: LAB for laboratory and labour.
Item 2. Discussion of the constitution.
The draft of the constitution of the organization was scrutinized point by point. PL pointed out that Worklab is an independent organization, but it is the intention to apply for association with ICOM as several other museum organizations have done.
The proposed text of the constitution was discussed and corrected. Here is only mentioned:
In Section II the definition of museums was corrected from workers’ museum to labour museums.
Article 16: discussion took place as to whether a general meeting should take place every second or third year. It was generally agreed that it should take place every second year, since its purpose is to facilitate the development of networks.
In connection with the latter issue discussion took place on issuing a Newsletter twice a year.
Having gone through the constitution it was adopted by the participants. The Workers’ Museum will send the minutes and the amended constitution to the participating museums for comments and possible adjustments.
Item 3. Election of Committee
Before the final election of a provisional committee took place, PL said that the the museums which had been contacted, but were not present, generally were interested in the organization being established and would take an active part in its work.
To a question from MT, PL replied that it is not the intention of Worklab to abolish the museum group in IALHI, as both were needed. The IALHI group does not offer the opportunity for close collaboration in specific museums matters, rather it is a forum for building up a network and exchanging ideas. Worklab’s intention is for a closer collaboration within an international organization which can be mobilized for specific aims, e.g. production of exhibitions.
In this connection a regular newsletter will be of utmost importance as we frequently face the same problems in our work.
MT: We could for example make joint applications to the EC. Collaboration as far as fund raising is concerned is of great importance.
PL: Conferences will be importance, not only in order to deliver papers, but to experience new environments, make contacts etc. The Workers’ Museum has been involved in other groups, but none of them concentrates on workers’ museums specifically.
SB: What is most important – fund raising or exhibitions?
PL: Both are important. There are, however, other matters of common concern like the degree to which the TUCs in the various countries are involved with the respective museums. In the Nordic countries we know each other well and have collaborated on specific projects, but we need to extend this circle to other labour museums all over the world. An organization like Worklab is of importance, e.g. also because the common European concept (i.e. EUC) of culture is very traditional and high culture orientated. If words like industry and work are connected with the initiatives it is extremely difficult to obtain EUC funds. In short, the idea behind the organization is also to initiate political work, thus strengthening funding applications.
The provisional committee was elected and shall work until the first general meeting in 1998.
The provisional committee consists of
Chair: Peter Ludvigsen, Arbejdermuseet, Denmark.
Secretary: Myna Trustram, National Museum of Labour History, GB.
Treasurer: Annette Vasström, Arbejdermuseet, Denmark.
Ordinary Board members:
Bjørn Edvardsen, Industriarbeidermuseet, Norway.
Sara Bengtzon, Arbetets Museum, Sweden.
Jürgen Ellemeyer, Museum der Arbeit, Germany.
As far as future activities are concerned Peter Ludvigsen will speak about the new organization at IALHI’s annual meeting in Washington in September 1997 and will also inform other industrial and workers’ museums about the organization and its constitution.
It was agreed that the next general meeting shall take place in 1998. Both the Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg, and the Museum of Work, Norrköping, expressed interest in being hosts. If the meting takes place at the Museum of Work, Norrköping, it could possibly be combined with a seminar on Industrial Heritage which is at the planning stage. SB will discuss the matter with her director.
Finally the annual fee for membership was agreed upon: 100 ECU for institutions, 20 ECU for individual membership.
Future assignments for the committee:
The first newsletter to be published before 1st March 1998.
Time and place for the first committee meeting.
These assignments will be taken care of by the Danish representatives.
Ref. Annette Vasström.
as printed in Worklab Newsletter no. 1, 1998