European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Let the Museum Speak: European Museums in an Age of Migrations

24 September 2013

MeLa Mid Term Seminar

Paris, France | Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration


Two years and a half after the MeLa Kick-off Meeting held at at Musei Capitolini and MAXXI in Rome, which inaugurated the beginning of the MeLa Project activities, the Midterm Seminar has represented an important milestone fostering introspection, dissemination, collection of new stimuli and planning of further tasks, as well as gathering new key findings through the coalescence of theories and practices.

By triggering a multi-disciplinary and multi-perspective critical debate about the transformation of the contemporary museums, the Seminar aimed at capturing the complexity of these processes by facilitating a cross-fertilisation between the scientific outcomes developed by the scholars involved within the MeLa Project and the innovative experiences promoted by some pioneering museums, illustrated through the words of the directors and curators who conceived and actualised them. Accordingly, the program of the Midterm Seminar included a morning session, devoted to the presentation of the ongoing results of the activities developed within the MeLa Research Fields 1, 2, 3 and 4, which are currently being completed, and two afternoon sessions aimed at reporting about the advanced practices promoted by several new or renovated European institutions, in order to evaluate the outcomes and new perspectives they produced.
The selection of the invited museums was led by a plurality of tasks, on the one hand drawing on the consistence and the quality of the experiences intended to foster the involvement of new audiences and enhancing the role of museums as agents for social change, on the other highlighting the wide and transversal interest for these issues, which are at the core of the revision of a variety of museums. The panel was indeed characterised by the differentation of the focus and mission of the presented museums and their distribution across several European Countries. The heterogeneity of the reported experiences highlighted the richness and the variety of the approaches, tools and strategies which are being experimented to afford the challenges posed by this “age of migrations.”

Focusing on the transformation of contemporary museums, as cultural spaces and processes as well as physical places, the seminar aimed at stimulating reflections and exchanges about innovative museum practices and projects in a age characterised by the enhancement of cultural encounters and cross-fertilisations.


9.30 - Morning session: Insights from MeLa
The principal investigators participating to the MeLa Project will reported about the preliminary results of the research activities they had been developing in the previous months.
Chris Whitehead, The International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University
Iain Chambers, Human and Social Sciences Department, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”
Perla Innocenti, History of Art, School of culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow
Ruth Noack, Department of Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art


14.00 - Afternoon Sessions
The two afternoon sessions were dedicated to the presentation of different European museums, which had been selected for the interesting initiatives they were promoting; their curators and directors presented some pioneering experiences in the experimentation of innovative practices for the involvement of new audiences. In particular, the first session was dedicated to practices that had already been implemented, and was thus meant to report and evaluate findings and results; the second focused on the future strategies which some new or renovated important museums were planning to actualise, and was intended to envision further questions and perspectives.
Session 1 | Sharing Expriences: Curators and directors from selected European museums illustrated their pioneering initiatives: Museum of London, Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, Écomusée du Val de Bièvre, Deutsches Auswandererhaus Bremerhaven.
Session 2 | Looking Forward
Some of the newest European museums presented their projects and strategies for their burst onto the contemporary cultural scene: Musée de l’Homme, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Museum of Cultural History, History Museum of Frankfurt, MUCEM–Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, Galata Museum of Genoa, section Memory and Migrations. 

Attendance was free of charge.