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International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience

This coalition is a growing world-wide network of organizations and individuals dedicated to teaching and learning how historic sites and museums can inspire social consciousness and action. The museums that are considered “sites of conscience” engage in programs that stimulate dialogue on pressing social issues and promote humanitarian and democratic values.

What is a site of conscience?

Whether it interprets great good or great evil, whether it preserves a cultural or an environmental resource, a historic site has unique power to inspire social consciousness and action. By opening new conversations about contemporary issues in historical perspective, historic sites can become new town halls, central to civic life and democracy. A site of conscience makes a commitment beyond its conventional role as a museum by:

interpreting history through historic sites

engaging in programs that stimulate dialogue on pressing social issues and promote humanitarian and democratic values as a primary function

sharing opportunities for public involvement in issues raised at the site

What does the Coalition do together?

Web site of conscience:
Through its first-of-its-kind web program, www.sitesofconscience.org, the Coalition works with leading international human rights and social welfare organizations to bring the lessons of the past to bear on contemporary struggles. Web visitors tour member historic sites and explore where in the world the issues they raise are still unresolved. Participating organizations include Human Rights Watch, International Center for Transitional Justice, Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, the RFK Center for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

Dialogues for Democracy:
Members develop program models that engage visitors in ongoing civic dialogue at each of their sites.

Staff exchanges:
The Coalition helps coordinate learning exchanges between members.

Coalition conferences:
Members gather for week-long intensive workshops to address common challenges and develop new initiatives-both for individual member sites and for the Coalition as a whole.

Capacity Building:
Through a partnership with the International Center for Transitional Justice, it works with NGOs and local human rights initiatives around the world on establishing places of memory as centers for reconciliation and rebuilding. The Coalition also works with large networks of historic sites such as the National Park Service (U.S.A.), the National Trust for Historic Preservation (U.S.A.), Parks Canada, and the National Trust (U.K.) to develop strategies for addressing contemporary issues at their sites.

Resource Link: www.sitesofconscience.org

Heidi Karst, Program and Communications Coordinator


212-431-0233 x219

c/o Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 91 Orchard Street

New York



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