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ICOM ICME 2018 : Re‐imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary ICOM‐ICME 51st Annual Conference 2018


When Oct 9, 2018 - Oct 12, 2018
Where Estonia
Submission Deadline Apr 20, 2018
Notification Due May 10, 2018
Categories    museum   ethnography   memory   museology

Call For Papers

Re‐imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary
ICOM ICME 51st Annual Conference 2018
October 9‐12.10.2018, Estonia National Museum, Tartu, Estonia
Keynotes confirmed: Wayne Modest, Pille Runnel, Philipp Schorch, Andrea Witcomb

ICOM ICME invites proposals for contributions to our 2018 annual conference, "Re‐ imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary.” We invite you to join us in Estonia to reflect upon the complex context(s) in which museums exist today, and to creatively examine the range of new and future roles we might productively employ in our respective and interconnected institutions.

ICME is the international committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) devoted to ethnographic museums and collections from local, national, and/or global cultures and societies. Our annual conference brings together diverse museum scholars and practitioners from across the world.

It has now been fifteen years since Andrea Witcomb published Re‐imagining the Museum, but her text remains relevant today. Museums are situated in a world of rapidly changing global politics, contested digital technologies, and increasing socio‐economic inequalities. Within this ‘global contemporary,’ we recognize that various ideologies and ethical perspectives greatly influence and impact our work, in regard to understanding collections, designing exhibitions, and various other aspects of museum work.

As contemporary museum professionals, we may be asked to perform a range of roles that take us out of our traditional comfort zones, as we seek collaborative action across boundaries including: nation, ethnic identity, class, disability, gender and sexual preference. Museums have often ventured into difficult discussions and the engagement of diverse audiences. We might prioritise storytelling and sharing curatorial power so that myriad stories can be told in exhibition spaces, programmes and outreach to attract more diverse audiences. At the same time, such work can be seen as radical change threatening collections care, research and the place of the object in ‘new’ museums devoted to opening dialogue.

With our conference, we present the question: Are these various positions mutually exclusive? We offer a space to consider that a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either/or’ perspective may be possible, moving us beyond binary positions that put ‘progress’ and ‘tradition’ in unhealthy tension.

We call for papers, panels and workshops (academic, practice‐based or any combination of the two) from colleagues who work on collections, exhibitions, and programming that aims to diversify audiences and reconsider interpretive practice, as well as from colleagues who wish to maintain, implement, and respect the legacies of more traditional practices. Together we hope to find new ways to express who we are to one another and those that visit museums, the actions we might take in the future, and the contributions we might make to the contemporary world of museology.

We are interested in work that addresses a range of questions that have long concerned ICME, which include but are certainly not limited to:
•How does/can the museum problematize and/or diversify knowledge production? 

•How do technology and multisensory activities raise/elevate (or curtail) new voices and participatory 

•How can knowledge and power be productively shared in museums? 

•How have we questioned both ‘elite’ orthodoxies and new interpretive theories in productive ways?

ICME are delighted to announce four keynote speakers: Dr Wayne Modest (Netherlands), Dr Pille Runnel (Estonia), Dr Philipp Schorch (Germany) and Dr Andrea Witcomb (Australia). Details of their research interests can be found at

The conference is hosted by Estonian National Museum, in Tartu, Estonia (

Conference websites:;

Submitting an abstract
We ask that papers (15 minutes) or panel discussion proposals would not exceed 400 words. In addition we also welcome proposals for shorter papers (10 minutes) about current work in the ethnographic museum on the main theme.
The following information should be included with the abstract:
Name(s) of Author(s) Affiliation(s) & full address(es) Title of submitted paper Support equipment required
All submissions must include a 100‐word bio for each presenter.

Please send proposals as soon as possible, but no later than 20.04.2018 as a Word Document attachment to the e‐mail:

The abstracts will be evaluated by at least two members of the Conference Committee. 

Conference Committee: 

Dr. Viv Golding (UK), ICOM ICME Chair / University of Leicester, Museum Studies

Dr. Ulf Dahre (Sweden), ICOM ICME Treasurer / Lund University, Social Anthropology

Dr. Pille Runnel (Estonia) / Estonian National Museum, Research Director
Sylvia Wackernagel (Germany), ICOM ICME Secretary / Silesian Museum
Mario Buletić (Croatia), ICOM ICME Webmaster / Ethnographic Museum of Istria

Brittany Lauren Wheeler (USA), ICOM ICME Conferences / PhD candidate, Clark University, Boston
Agnes Aljas (Estonia), ICOM ICME Board member / Estonian National Museum, Research Secretary

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