Guide on how museums relate to human rights

The guide ‘Museums and Human Rights: Human rights as a basis for public service’ by Henry McGhie, Curating Tomorrow, aims to support museums and museum workers to understand and fulfil their human rights duties with greater confidence, to use human rights as a practical tool for more effective public service, and to enable more people to be able to exercise their basic rights and freedoms through museums.

Museums and Human Rights explains the different categories of rights (civil and political, economic, social and cultural), but emphasises that these should not be seen as entirely separate, as rights are inseparable. People’s cultural rights – to participate in cultural life, share in scientific advancement, freedom of expression and to seek information, and to education – are also fundamentally connected to their abilities to take part in wider social and political life.

The guide explores some of the most important international agreements, which often include specific mentions of cultural activity and in some cases specifically mention museums. The guide highlights some of the ways that museums can contribute more effectively to these agreements, through education, cultural participation, management and partnerships.