PARCUM, museum and expertise centre for religious art and culture, was founded in 1997 as a non-profit organisation with the aim of taking care of the religious heritage of the different religions and worldviews in Flanders and Brussels, Belgium. PARCUM uses an integral and transversal heritage approach. Through an integrated approach, PARCUM takes on all steps in the care of religious heritage, from inventory to valuation and selection to valorisation and the active search for a new future for religious heritage.
The transversal approach across the different heritage types ensures that PARCUM always takes into account immovable, movable and intangible heritage when caring for the heritage of a church, monastery or house of prayer ( of different religions and worldviews) . Dialogue is at the heart of PARCUM’s work. Religious heritage is a multilayered heritage with different meanings according context and audience. Because of this great diversity of perspectives and opinions on religious heritage, ‘dialogue’ is a key concept. Dialogue helps to deal meaningfully with religious heritage in today’s secularised, multi-religious and super-diverse society. Multi-voicedness and multiculturalism are important pillars in the functioning of PARCUM.
Within this general and transversal approach, PARCUM has been actively engaged in identifying and safeguarding the intangible heritage of its heritage communities since Belgium ratified the Unesco Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. PARCUM does not only map the intangible heritage of the heritage communities around heritage practices relating to religion, but actively supports transmission to future generations. PARCUM is a reference point for the transfer, communication, and education of intangible heritage across generations, religions, and worldviews. PARCUM focuses on networking and knowledge sharing among intangible heritage communities and between heritage communities and professional heritage organisations. Moreover, through its museum, PARCUM wants to foster safeguarding of the knowledge about the intangible heritage of its heritage communities and share it with the general public by means of exhibitions and educational activities.
PARCUM is an expertise centre active in different fields of inventorying and safeguarding intangible heritage of different religions and worldviews:
-Mapping practices and traditions such as processions, iftar meals, musical traditions in the context of religious celebrations, pilgrim traditions, etc.
-Making this intangible heritage accessible through online databases such as ODIS database
-Assisting heritage communities in submitting an application for inclusion in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Flanders
-Safeguarding programme for processions (‘Op handen gedragen’) with a biennial network day for procession organisers, development of safeguarding tools (brochure with good safeguarding practices for processions), drawing up individual safeguarding plans on request and organising educational programmes such as workshops or seminars.
-Safeguarding programmes per type of intangible heritage: Mariana caves, Saint Anthony celebrations, …
-Organise exhibitions on intangible heritage, making living traditions and practices known to the general public, for example by organising the exhibition ‘On the move’ on processions and other kinds of moving religious heritage.
-Guided tours in PARCUM by members of the intangible heritage communities at temporary exhibitions in the context of ‘dialogue guides’ (duo guides with members from multicultural heritage)
Year of accreditation: 2022
Main domain of the NGO’s activities: oral traditions and expressions; social practices, rituals and festive events; traditional craftsmanship.
Main country where the NGO works: Belgium (Flanders)
Local, national or international level of the NGO: national