Irish Museums Association (IMA) Annual Conference, Athlone 2020 : Transforming Museums – closing 23 Sept

The IMA invites session proposals for their Annual Conference 2020, to be held in Athlone on 21 and 22 February 2020.

This conference is the main annual gathering of the Irish museum sector. It aims to provide a platform for critical dialogue around the role and purpose of museums and inform sectoral agendas, while assisting museums with their thinking and planning as they realise their full potential.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words outlining either 20-minute individual presentations or 50-minute sessions in response to the conference theme.

Conference Theme

‘The museum of the past must be set aside, reconstructed, transformed from a cemetery of bric-a-brac to a nursery of living thoughts. The museum of the future must stand side by side with the library and the laboratory.’ – Smithsonian curator George Brown Goode, 1889.

In recent decades there has been a major shift towards a user-led philosophy within museum practice. How can we encourage and drive this culture change from within our institutions, and also adapt to the changing cultural context in which our institutions exist? Is it time to reimagine the place of the museum and its functions? Who will shape that vision?

More than ever, museums are directly engaging with topics of social change. Does this signal a shift in museums’ identities and roles? Is it a nimble response to public demand? Or is it a strategic evolution toward a future concept of what museums could and should be?

From high-level strategy to on-the-ground implementation, this conference will seek to explore what are the attitudes, partnerships and collaborations that can drive development and redraw the museum’s boundaries. How we plan to navigate the accelerated levels of change around us while also maintaining our commitment to positive aspects of our historical legacy.

Goode’s call for museums to evolve into a more relevant, approachable, contemporary resource for the public are, to a certain extent, unrealised. By exploring what museums can be and what are the barriers to us achieving this, we pose the question: as we look towards ‘Ireland 2040’, what will museums of twenty years from now look like?

irishmuseums.org/ima-annual-conference for information on the submission process and the IMA conference.

The Irish Museums Association is funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and The Heritage Council. We are also very grateful to Athlone Arts & Tourism for their support in delivering this conference.

Deadline for proposals: Noon, 23 September 2019
Conference location: Dean Crowe Theatre and Arts Centre, Athone
Conference dates: 21-22 February 2020

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