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Mrs.Saskia`s speech in yesterday`s Zemun conference / from Belgium


Collaboration between cartoon museums
What are we talking about?

Before we can start a debate about the topics on which we can work together, it’s first of all important that each cartoon museum considers two key questions:

-    What is the identity of our museum?
-    What is specific to our museum?

We are convinced that for all these topics related to the specificity of your museum it is very difficult to achieve collaboration.

So to make cooperation between cartoon museums possible we think we have to focus on 2 important questions:

-    What are the similarities between our museums?
-    What costs us a lot of energy and money, which we can save if we work together

With these questions in mind we made an analysis of the possible ways of cooperation. But it is evident that each of these proposals has to match, for each of us, the above criteria.

The ECC considers 4 major areas in which we can work together:

1.    Support and communication
2.    Exhibitions
3.    Development of the museum
4.    Research

1. Support and communication

The ECC is persuaded that the proposal made at the directors meeting of 2009 in Turkey to have a web portal for cartoon museums still is relevant, it will make collaboration between different museums more visible to the public.

A more extensive cooperation on the level of information exchange seems self-evident. On the other hand it demands goodwill from each of us and an automatic reflex to give information about our projects to each other.

It would for example be great if we could develop a year calendar with the activities of all the participating cartoon museums. For museums that are geographically close to each other it would be even more appropriate to discuss the year program in advance. In this way we can avoid for example that inaugurations of exhibitions are on the same day.

We also have to consider which communication tools we use to share information with each other. Of course we could send information by e-mail, unfortunately it is not always the most effective way to stay really connected with each other. So perhaps we have to search for alternatives and make use of new social media, for example by creating a Linkedin group or work with Google+. I’m sure that these media could be good alternatives to stay in contact between the yearly live meetings of the museums.

2. Exhibitions

Every year the ECC is developing its own exhibitions, a very time consuming activity that leads to great exhibitions. It would be awesome if people in other countries could see these exhibitions too. Of course some exhibitions are linked to our own culture and difficult to transpose to other countries.

But it should be possible that every museum develops an exhibition, on a specific topic, that travels among the different museums. In that case, we should of course discuss some quality standards for the exhibitions. Also some questions about the mobility of the works must be discussed.

If we agree to do this, we could possibly also consider small standardized catalogues for each exhibition. In that way a series of cartoon exhibition catalogues can be developed on a larger scale.

3. Development of the museum

The ECC developed a school project about cartoons for children between 10 and 12 years. The aim of this project is to teach children about cartoons, what is a cartoon and how can you interpret it. It is not our objective to teach the youngsters how to draw cartoons. This school project is very successful and we like to develop other projects for younger and older children.

We suppose that other museums are also developing school projects, or wanting to do it in the future, so why can’t we work together on this and share our expertise.

Or perhaps we can make information boards or video material to explain to the visitors of the museum what is a cartoon? How does a cartoonist make a cartoon? What about world cartoon history? With dubbing or subtitling movies can be used by every museum.

4. Research

An important activity for the ECC is the development of our archive and documentation centre. Therefore it would be simply great if we could exchange books, catalogues, information about cartoons and cartooning all over the world.

On the other hand we could work together to do some research about cartoon topics and start collaboration programs with our universities about themes we, as cartoon museums, are interested in. Wouldn’t it be great that universities and cartoon museums from all over the world do research about one specific cartoon topic?

At last we are convinced that it is our role, as cartoon museums, to think about our cartoon heritage for tomorrow. We’re thinking about interviews (by film or writing) important cartoonists of the moment or the recent past and documenting their work. This way we can save our cartoon heritage for the next generations. If we can work together on this kind of projects we can achieve a lot, that’s for sure.


In general, we think we should start making a list of the top expertise domains of each museum (developing exhibitions, organising contests, spreading information to cartoonist, pedagogical or scientific projects, etc.). We could also make a list of specific needs that each museum has. Both lists could make it possible to know exactly where we can help each other.

And just a final word to say how important it is not only to talk about collaboration, but to really get started, even if we are not sure yet where this collaboration will bring us in the future. Because, as Henry Ford already knew at the beginning of the previous century:

‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."


Saskia Gheysens
Representative of the
European Cartoon Center Kruishoutem - Belgium



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