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

Museums and Innovation - ICME Annual Conference

14-16 October 2014

Zagreb, Croatia


The 2014 edition of the Annual Conference promoted by ICME (the International Committee for Museums of Ethnography) will be held on 14-16 October, 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia. The event, organised in cooperation with the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies, will focus on the theme "Museums and Innovation"

ICME/2014/ Croatia will organise the conference as a forum where museum professionals, students and academic researchers can discuss innovative ways of presenting heritage in museums (through recent permanent and temporary exhibitions or online projects) they have taken part in or studied during recent years, as well as projects in process or planned for the near future. This conference aims to initiate a debate about new ways of thinking and working in museums today and in the future.

Collections have to be constantly interpreted and reinterpreted in order to extend knowledge about the collected objects. It is a well-known fact that each museum is defined by its collections, but a contemporary museum cannot offer its visitors only the elements of the past. One if the most important questions museums face is how to promote contemporary relevance and prompt new meaning making with objects. Ethnographic and social history museums are at the forefront of exploring new methods to attract visitor’s reflection on the past, the present and the future. Museography today has a complex role, to explain who we are and what museums might positively impact on global society, which implies more difficult tasks than showing the making techniques and the functions of objects.

The conference will raise a number of questions. How are museums dealing with change? Which subjects are presented in temporary exhibitions? How are subjects with social relevance presented? What about the presentation of political and social elements? How are links between the past and the present established? How to make heritage interesting and relevant for visitors?

Some museums raise questions concerning new ways of presenting the complexity of identities and by doing so they give an intercultural context to their collections, that is, they try to show the dynamism and changes in society. To what extent, if at all is it part of the new museum’s role to influence communities and government, to act as agents of social justice and help address social needs. Museums have been challenged by the need to modernise collections and displays, but also by the ‘turn’ towards audiences. How might museums attract new audiences without alienating existing visitors? The quality and sustainability of a visit has become increasingly important and prompting visitor’s understandings of the museum as a place of dialogue, a place where she/he will consider diverse questions and gain new knowledge(s) of self and ‘others’, our similarities and our differences. Should museums be provocative to play an active role in society and react to current events through developing exhibitions and organising public discussions? How can controversial, intimate or marginal topics be presented in exhibitions? What about individual stories, how can they be presented? How might intangible heritage be presented? What are your views on digital technologies in museums – how do they enhance or detract from the original? What about art installations in cultural, historical and ethnographic museums? Do they help us develop new museum concepts and inform pedagogical practice? How?


The conference is planned as a forum where experts, primarily ethnologists and cultural anthropologists, students and academics will briefly speak (for between 20-30 minutes) to the theme, highlighting contemporary problems and challenges faced by museum exhibitions, as well as the extramural activities they organize around them for specific target audiences such as families, children, elders and migrant communities.

Papers will be organised into thematic units and followed by a discussion and exchange of experience in relation to each set of papers discussed. A major aim for this conference is to initiate an on-going discussion about the challenges, problems and new possibilities of planning and working on exhibitions or joint projects.


In order to submitt a proposal, abstracts of between 250 and 300 words should be submitted for selection to the ICME Review Committee, which will comprise Dr Zvjezdana Antoš, Sylvia Wackernagel, and Dr Viv Golding who will act as chair. Submissions should be sent to Dr Viv Golding (, Dr Zvjezdana Antoš ( and Sylvia Wackernagel (‎) by May 1, 2014. If you send the abstract as an attachment, please also include the text of the abstract in the text of the e-mail itself.


» link to the Conference