patrimonio e intercultura

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patrimonio e intercultura

"Cultural Heritage and Integration" Programme


Fondazione ISMU - Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità (ISMU Foundation - Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity)

Funding bodies
Fondazione ISMU and Provincia di Milano, Assessorato alla Cultura Culture e Integrazione (Province of Milan, Department of Culture Cultures and Integration)

· to explore in which ways and on which terms heritage, which has traditionally been used to exclude those who “don’t belong”, can realistically become a resource in promoting understanding and mutual respect between individuals and groups with different cultural backgrounds
· to devise innovative methodologies and tools for the planning and evaluation of “intercultural” heritage education activities jointly developed by partners working in different institutional contexts
· to promote the active and responsible citizenship of both autochthonous and migrant communities through participation in cultural life

Target groups
Operators from museums, libraries, schools and agencies for lifelong learning, local authorities and associations, community centres, linguistic/cultural mediators.

Duration of the project
Started in 2005 and ongoing

Project description
Fondazione ISMU, which has long been actively engaged in research, documentation and training on immigration issues both at regional and at national level, has more recently developed a new area of research and activity aimed at exploring the potential contribution of heritage institutions in promoting a better integration of migrant communities.
Within this framework, the Foundation has launched “Cultural heritage and integration”, a programme for the development of intercultural competence addressed at operators coming from different institutions (museums, libraries, schools, local authorities and associations).

Phase 1: the training and action-research project (November 2005 - February 2007)
The programme started as a local training and action-research project for the development of intercultural competence addressed at operators coming from different institutions (museums, libraries, schools, agencies for adult education, local authorities, community organisations, research centres, cultural mediators…).
More in particular,
Since 2005, the main activities have included:
- A training course on methodologies of inter-institutional planning for cultural institutions, educational agencies and local government authorities (October-December 2005). More in particular, the training meetings aimed at: providing participants with a common conceptual framework and language; rethinking inter-institutional partnerships as a shared commitment and strategy, rather than as an occasional encounter; examining in depth the role of cultural mediators.
- Action-research meetings with the joint planning of heritage and museum education initiatives aimed at fostering dialogue between individuals with different cultural backgrounds (January-May 2006). Two “inter-institutional” working groups were set up during this phase; The outputs of their work are two projects targeted at Italian and foreign youths in both school and extra-school contexts. The themes chosen were: “Youth and conflicts” (youths and the manipulation of historical evidence on conflict) and “Wearing identity” (the relationship between body, clothing and behaviour in the experience of teenagers).
- The development of tools to sustain the programme’s participants in the implementation of heritage education projects in their institutional contexts: a self-evaluation questionnaire has been developed by Fondazione ISMU’s project team to help participants “read” their institutional context (its needs, strengths and weaknesses) with particular reference to intercultural dialogue, and evaluate the first feedback received from senior staff and governing boards
- The publication of “Planning together for an intercultural heritage” (Quaderni ISMU 1/2007, see below)
- A one-day seminar to present the programme to the expert community in the field of intercultural heritage education and reflect on its key features (Spazio Oberdan, Milan, 5 February 2007)

Phase 2: from “Cultural heritage and integration” to “Planning together for an intercultural heritage”
The rationale behind the action-research phase of “Cultural heritage and integration” was to engage professionals from different institutional spheres in the planning of initiatives to be subsequently implemented in their respective local contexts. Through a likely simulation of an inter-institutional planning process, the projects developed by the two groups have been experienced and recognised not much as a theoretical exercise, but rather as an operational paradigm which is transferable, as regards its overall structure and its working phases, in the participants’ own institutional contexts.
As a matter of fact, some participants have already started to put into practice the planning and operational paradigms acquired or improved throughout the training and action-research meetings, e.g. by creating inter-institutional working groups, planning opportunities for community consultation, developing interpretive materials and educational projects integrating the perspectives of permanent exhibition spaces:
- Training course for “Mediators of intercultural heritages” (Centro Piemontese di Studi Africani, Turin)
- “Scenes of celebration. From antiquity to the present day, archaeology as a bridge between cultures” (Sistema Museale della Città di Cremona)
- “Sciences at the museum” (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale e Archeologia di Montebelluna, Treviso)
Both to sustain and nurture such developments, as well as to support the creation at a national level of an ever greater professional community engaged in promoting intercultural dialogue through heritage education, Fondazione ISMU has initiated the following actions:
- the creation of the website “Patrimonio e Intercultura” (, the first online resource specifically devoted to heritage/museum education in an intercultural perspective
- the monitoring of projects implemented both by the programme’s participants and by other museum professionals, educators etc. interested in developing this area of work.

Lessons to be learned
· a dialogical, dynamic notion of heritage
· the recognition of “intercultural” heritage education as a strategic component of both formal education and lifelong learning/active citizenship
· the programme’s focus on cross-sectoral partnerships and its transferability to a number of different institutional and professional contexts, by providing operators with guidelines and operational paradigms to promote interaction across different audiences
· the development of self-evaluation and monitoring tools to sustain the delicate transition of institutional actors from a sporadic, emergency-driven engagement in intercultural dialogue, to a structured and continued commitment
· the programme’s own evolution from a relatively small temporary project into a longer-term strategic programme to promote intercultural competence both at a local and at a national level.

Publications / other resources
- S. Bodo, S. Cantù, S. Mascheroni (eds.), Progettare insieme per un patrimonio interculturale, Quaderni ISMU 1/2007, Fondazione ISMU, Milano, 2007
- Web: “Patrimonio e Intercultura” (

Contact details
Fondazione ISMU - Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità
via Copernico, 1 – 20125 Milano
- Editorial team, “Patrimonio e Intercultura”
Simona Bodo and Silvia Mascheroni
- School Training Unit
Silvana Cantù
tel: +39.02.678779.40-41




Leading partner

Non-profit organization
Fondazione ISMU - Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity

Target groups

Operators from different professional/institutional contexts


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