International networks

The issues to which the National Museums of World Culture is committed and the collections it manages attract a lot of interest from across the world.In order to promote an international exchange of knowledge, competence and objects, the Museum constantly strives for a central and coordinated networking position.Some networks relate to comparable museums and their international object collections while others provide links to organisations in the civil society. All in all, the networks signify an important instrument for the development of museum operations.


In the fall 2000 the National Museums of World Culture initiated the establishment of a network of museums in Asia and Europe – ASEMUS.

The main point of departure for the Asia-Europe Museum Network is to identify and develop different means and activities in order to share museum collections hosted by Asian and European museums. Over the years this has resulted in conferences, workshops and seminars and a number of projects ranging from travelling exhibitions, research and exchanges on preservation and museum education.

Today, ASEMUS gather around 80 museums. For a ten year period, the National Museums of World Culture hosted the network Secretariat as well as the homepage(opens in new window).

This work is now done by the Museum of Asian Civilizations in Singapore, but the Swedish museums of world culture remains a strong and active force in many different activities of the network.

ASEMUS website http://asemus.museum/

Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF)

As the only permanent institution of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a political dialogue process joining 46 countries of Asia and Europe, ASEF has an important function in promoting connections between civil societies of the two regions, and heritage is an important area where Asia and Europe can find a ground for further dialogue and cooperation.

As such, the long-term partnership with the Asia-Europe Museum Network has played an important role in facilitating exchange of knowledge and information, as well as in promoting mutual appreciation and awareness on the rich cultural heritage we share.

Over the years, ASEF has been the most important financial contributor to the Network's activities, including the organization of the ASEMUS General Conferences every two years, and, in view of such connection, ASEF has also helped to re-launch the ASEMUS website as part of its culture360.org portal in 2011.

ASEF website: www.asef.org



Since 2004, the National Museums of World Culture cooperate with Sida. One result of this cooperation is the MuSEA network- cultural heritage for sustainable development, a program of museum cooperation in Southeast Asia, gathering museums and cultural heritage institutions in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sweden.


Together with European partners from ten countries The National Museums of World Culture are part of the EU-funded project "Ethnography Museums & World Cultures".

In a growing global and multicultural world, the European project Ethnography Museums and World Cultures rethought the place and role of ethnography museums.

Most such museums were established in the context of colonisation, and when the colonies were granted independence they had to relinquish their original function as conservatories of exotic objects and showcases for political propaganda and face reconversion on both a scientific and social level. Indeed, the status of the people who were regarded as a special object of study has changed completely and the political context of our contacts with them has changed as well. Considering the current upheavals in those societies and the waves of migration they provoke, the museums – which hold a substantial body of knowledge and heritage – must review their priorities. They have the option of using the accumulated wealth of their collections to give the public the keys to understanding other cultures.

Ten of Europe's ethnography museums, among the most important on the international scene, are pooling their experiences in series of scientific workshops on social issues related to the perception of ethnic groups from the other continents, organized around two main themes: "modernity" and first encounters.

The set up of a collective and travelling exhibition crystallize the question of "modernity" and the elaboration of a theatre piece is dedicated to the first encounters.

International Colloquiums, workshops and research laboratories contribute, all along the project, to the analysis of this theme that, at eventually, will be published.

Teams of scientists and professionals from these museums are working to set up an international network of Ethnography Museums (RIME) that will facilitate exchanges of collections, data transfers and staff mobility. A special place will be kept for the museums in economically disadvantaged countries to give them the full benefit of membership of such a network.

By bringing together a number of European ethnography museums, various scientific partners and associations cooperate in order to take up these new challenges, the project will position these museums as key partners and special mediators in the current drive to foster dialogue between cultures in respect to their diversity.


The Virtual Collection of Masterpieces (VCM) is one of the main projects that has developed out of ASEMUS. The digital collection is a result of the ambition to identify means to mutually share museum collections in Asia and Europe.

Today VCM represents around 100 museums that have been invited to contribute with a maximum of 25 objects judged as "masterpieces" subjectively.
Quite soon it becomes evident that the definition of what deserves the label "masterpiece" is culturally and socially dependent. In some cases it might be the collection history of the object, in some the beauty and in other the social use. In some cases the definition of what object that constitutes a masterpiece is decided by the State.
The fact that the participating museums are spread throughout Asia and Europe, makes the different definitions and stories behind thrilling and interesting.
In the future the virtual collection will become more interactive and open up possibilities for the general public to create their own collection of masterpieces, now using the object that is part of a mutual collection of Asian and European museums.

VCM website http://old.vcm.asemus.museum/default.aspx