Museums and Politics
9 – 12 of September 2014, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
ICOM Russia, ICOM Germany, ICOM USA Joint Conference

In the last few years, museums in our countries have changed dramatically and many now have larger social and territorial responsibilities. The preservation and safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is considered the most relevant function of museums and should not be neglected. However, contemporary museums have wider goals. They offer public services and social activities, as well as culture and knowledge. They serve new audiences, use new languages and new media. Innovative museums foster public awareness, promote understanding of heritage and offer educational services. They strengthen cultural identities, support social cohesion and develop intercultural mediation – activities which are fundamental in times of crisis. Museums produce public values and improve regional assets in a global world. They provide facilities and resources for local, regional and national communities. They generate not only knowledge and education, but also income and employment. Museums and monuments are among the most appealing factors for the tourism industry, a vital economic sector in all our countries. Investing in museums, their activities and their professionals, is the best way to develop and improve the quality of cultural tourism.

During the last decades, museums have become institutions that form identity of cities, countries and nations with a reasonable political impact. At the same time, the funding of museums has undergone a major alteration, facing cuts from public authorities and the need of finding more and more sponsors whose interests complement museum development.

Additionally, museums are increasingly invited to assume and complement educational tasks in the public sector suffering from the training of soft skills and creative competences.

Some museums have become more and more influential within their society and the politics in the countries that pay attention to them. Is this growing influence good for museums or not? Could museums become a plaything for politics or should museums use politics to realize their main purposes?

During the conference, we would like to explore the following sub-themes:

1. Museums, foreign policy, international interests and conflicts

* Museum exchanges as cultural foreign policy

* Is the process of concentration in the museum landscape consistent with the requirement for cultural diversity? Do national politics echo the policy of the international agencies?

2. Museum and the “Making of Memory”

* Representation of political and contemporary history in museums

* Museum as the public area, where power shows its public face.

Museum as a forum for civic engagement to encourage activism, civil responsibility, equality, tolerance and concepts of liberty

* Problems within cultural heritage. Museum exhibits as “distillation” of the public nature of the museum. Does politics have power over the museum exhibit? Are museums independent from the politics in their relationships with the public? Should museums collaborate with politics in the area of the history?

* Museums and the fourth estate

* Censorship

* Government politics in a museum sphere

3. Museums as instruments for developing state and society – new arguments and legitimations

* Role of the museum in creation of the area and public capital.

Place of the museum in the modern conceptions of the town-planning and development of the territories

* Museum as a subject of the cultural policy. Principles and formats of the cooperation between museums and legislature, executive power on different levels; practice and problems

* Museums and visitors. In the contemporary world, museums should be welcoming and accessible places for all people

* Transformation of the social functions of a museum. Museum – is it a cultural institution, leisure centre, or a multicultural and scientific centre?

* Museum as a factor in regional development. Regional specificity and experience in cultural area formation with museum practices

* Museum as an educational institution

* Museum as a tourist attraction

* Museum as a factor of cultural and economic development of the region

4. Who cares? The responsibility for financing the cultural and natural heritage between the public and the private sector

* What is the status quo of museum funding? What are the options for co-financing museums in different societies with different traditions? How can the basic values and criteria of the museum be secured in face of budget cuts and the idea of profitability of cultural institutions?

* State programs on preservation and development of culture as financial support of the development of museums

* State policy and non-governmental support of museums, achievements and problems

* Legal control in the sphere of preservation, State protection of objects of cultural heritage

* Problems with cultural heritage preservation, including the sphere of technique and collections of the company museums

* Museums, religious organizations and native populations. Should museums return religious/spiritual objects of cultural value to the religious organizations or native populations? What are the ethical implications?

* Challenges of museums dependent on different ministries or departments. Museum as a non-core asset. How to explain the role of museum to the head of the agency or department?

The conference languages will be Russian, English and German.

The purpose of this joint meeting is to share knowledge and expertise within the museum community. All contributions should be of high quality, originality, clarity, significance and impact and not published elsewhere.

Call for Papers

The papers could be

– theoretically in terms of museology,

– reflect the comprehensive experience of a country,

– provide global perspectives, highlighting international partnerships,

– offer diverse cultural perspectives representing a range of disciplines, geographic locations and museum size.

The papers must not exceed 20 minutes. A publication of the papers is planned.

Abstracts should contain a maximum of 400 words and include the presenter’s name, place of employment, position and title of paper.

Abstract Form:

– Title

– Author/s (*indicate author for correspondence)

– Institution/s

– Position/s

– City, country

– E-mail address/es

– Main body of text (400 words)

Please indicate the appropriate subtheme of the paper.

All abstracts must be submitted in English.

Abstracts should be sent to: Mr. Vladimir Tolstoy ([email protected]) and Johanna Westphal ([email protected]).

Abstract Submission Deadline 28th of February 2014

This process is competitive.

Submissions will be reviewed by the Program Committee: Vladimir Tolstoy (Chair), Johanna Westphal (Secretary), Diana Pardue and Klaus Weschenfelder.

Successful applicants will be notified by end of April 2014.

The Program Committee asks you to send your conference presentation two weeks before the conference (Deadline – 25th of August 2014).

All papers will be published after the conference. The final text for the publication (in English) should be sent to the Program Committee in electronic version (MS Word is preferable) by 1st of October 2014. File should be saved in .doc or .docx format. Paper should not exceed 5000 words, including short bio, footnotes and bibliography.