World Federation of Friends of Museum – WFFM

Introduction

The World Federation of Friends of Museums - WFFM is an international, nonprofit and nongovernmental organization.

It was founded in Belgium in 1975 to gather the growing number of Friends of Museums in many countries, convinced of the importance of pulling together their efforts to exchange ideas and experiences for the conservation of cultural heritage of humanity. Its main objective is to promote the creation and development of national associations and/or associations of Friends of Museums around the world by supporting initiatives for the advancement of museums.

The WFFM nourishes the relationships between museum professionals and volunteers, young people and the public, because it believes it is through open and active participation of the community that these goals can be achieved.

Its members, 17 national federations and 28 associations in 34 different countries, participate in WFFM's international, national and regional activities, currently representing about two million people.

 

Objectives of WFFM

The objective of the World Federation of Friends of Museums is to promote and disseminate the idea of Friends of Museums around the world; The enrichment of museums and safeguard our cultural heritage are fundamental principles of all activities performed by the Federation.

The WFFM represents two million of Friends of Museums, grouped in federations and numerous associations throughout the world.

The WFFM believes that museums can realize its mission fully only through open and active participation of the community.

WFFM's activities are focused on the following objectives:

Join the growing number of Friends of Museums in different countries to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences on the theme of cultural heritage conservation.

Promote the creation and development of national federations and Associations of Friends of Museums around the world and support their initiatives geared to the enrichment of museums.

Foster the aplication of strict ethical standards between the Friends and volunteers of museums according to the rules established by the Code of Ethics of WFFM.

Spread the idea and vision of Friends of Museums around the world.

Encourage links between museum professionals and volunteers, young people and the general public.

Officially represent the Friends of Museums in cultural cooperation with similar international organizations, in particular with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Sensitize public and governments worldwide.

History

It was in Barcelona, 1967, that Luis Monreal, curator of the Museum Frederic Marés, originally conceived the idea of an international nonprofit organization, to gather societies of Friends of Museums around the world.

At the ninth General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) held in Paris in 1971, Hugues de Varines, President of ICOM, and Luis Monreal developed the guidelines of the new organization – a structure destined to become an organ of credibility in the universe of institutions of museums and other management entities, a transnational association that is open to various experiences of operation and needs of different cultures.

The first International Congress of Friends of Museums was held in Barcelona in June 1972. The meeting was attended by 150 representatives of 24 societies of Friends of Museums around the world. This preliminary contact led to the formation of an international working group, which agreed with the establishment of national associations of Friends of Museums and the task of studying the text of the statutes of the future World Federation of Friends of Museums.

In 1975, at the second International Congress in Brussels, the World Federation of Friends of Museums was officially established, with David Mawson from UK as its first president. The statutes were approved by the delegates of the six national federations (Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and the UK) and representatives of the three national associations (Amigos de los Museos - Barcelona, Spain; Commitees Museums of Art - Atlanta, USA; Gesellschaft der Freunde des-Römish Germanischen, Mainz, West Germany).
At the third International Congress held in Florence in 1978, the Board of WFFM comprised by the Presidents or delegates of the national federations – whose numbers increased progressively until this year – explained the new role of the Federation and the goals for the future.

Since 1980, the World Federation of Friends of Museums has implemented and expanded its influence to countries all over the world. New associations of Friends were created in New Zealand, Sweden, India, Brazil, Denmark and Thailand, and the new national federations have emerged in Argentina, Spain and Greece.

In 1985, WFFM changed part of its statutes in order to open the organization to a new category of members: individual members.

Reciprocal representation has been established between WFFM and ICOM, the relationship continued with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

In 1986, UNESCO’s cultural magazine 'Museum' began to regularly publish the activities of WFFM under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of WFFM.

In 1989, the World Federation of Friends of Museums was recognized by UNESCO as a Non Governmental Organisation (ONG). The initial status of observer at meetings of the Executive Council of ICOM was promoted over the years to allow divulgation of their activities.

The cooperation with leading international organizations like these helped to strengthen relationships between friends/volunteers and museum professionals, and has helped establish an effective and reciprocal synergy that benefits the museum, heritage and the general public.

In 1996, the ninth International Congress held in Oaxaca, Mexico, the World Federation of Friends of Museums has unanimously approved the Code of Ethics for Volunteers and Friends of Museums. The document contains the basic principles that each member must meet, while acting on behalf of their association. The Code of Ethics WFFM was formally welcomed by ICOM, and in 2001two articles acknowledging the role of the Friends and promoting joint action were included in the Code of Ethics for ICOM Museums.

In 2002, WFFM published a practical manual 'How to Start a Group of Friends', by Carol Serventy, a basic guide to encourage people to start groups of Friends of Museums and to join in a regional or a national federation.

During the twelfth Congress in Seville, Spain, 2005, WFFM celebrated its 30th anniversary with the publication of the book 'Donations of Art '.

The WFFM sets up a meeting of the Council and the General Assembly, to be held once or twice a year, and an International Congress every three years, each time at a different city in the world.

Each triennial congress of WFFM has been a success and an excellent forum for Friends of museums to meet, exchange information and ideas, and the necessary support and inspiration.

The International Congresses were held in Barcelona (1972), Brussels (1975), Florence (1978), Birmingham (1981), Paris (1984), Toronto (1987), Córdoba (1990), Treviso (1993), Oaxaca (1996) , Sydney (1999), Buenos Aires (2002), Seville (2005) and Jerusalem (2008).

Over the years, WFFM has also promoted various events and initiatives such as organizing meetings and conferences on fundraising, volunteer work, educational activities, and so on.

Since 1975, WFFM has steadily grown into its active frame (national federations) and Associate Members (single associations or groups) as well as the adhesion of individual members.
Today, WFFM has 17 active members and 28 associate members. Individual members are almost two million people in 34 different countries, which belong to a broad spectrum of society.
Thanks to this growing number, the WFFM reached the role of key player in the world of culture and became a 'representative of the museum goers ' in the world.


Timelines

2009
Board Meeting and General Assembly - Glasgow (Scotland) - April 30 to May 3
Election of new president, Daniel Ben-Natan

Presence in 34 countries with 17 national federations and 28 associations

2008
XIII International Congress - Jerusalem (Israel) - September 21 to 26
Theme: 'Relationships between Museums, Friends and Volunteers'

President: Carla Bossi Comelli
General Secretary: Lila de Chaves (Greece)
Treasurer: Daniel Ben-Natan (Israel)