ICOM is preparing a double issue of Museum International on the theme The role of museums in a changing society. The issue will be overseen by the Editorial Board with Prof. Dr Tereza Scheiner as Editor in Chief. All proposals submitted will be assessed for suitability and subsequent articles will go through a peer review process. The issue is expected to be published, in collaboration with Wiley Blackwell, by July 2016.

The role of museums in a changing society

Since its creation, ICOM has emphasised the importance of museums as tools for individual improvement and social change – through public participation, educational programmes and outreach activities.

ICOM’s general conferences in 1968 and 1971 reinforced this perspective, with an emphasis on museums’ mission to serve society as a whole and their responsibility to regional communities. In 1972, The Declaration of Santiago, Chile, which followed the roundtable organised by UNESCO, urged museums to become agents of change promoting diversity and human rights.

In the aftermath of these events, museums have increasingly incorporated the concept of social responsibility into their discourse from different perspectives and at different levels of implementation.

Technological, social, political, environmental and economic change has accelerated on a worldwide level, and these issues pose a constant challenge to societies, including their relationship to history, identity, and their environment. These challenges have forced museums to redefine their roles, including a growing focus on the visitor, and exploring new ways of enhancing the health and wellbeing of communities.

In November 2013, the General Conference of UNESCO recognised the need for a new standard-setting instrument in the field of museums, to be elaborated in close collaboration with ICOM. This has given way to a draft Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums, their Diversity and their Role in Society. One of the aspects at the heart of this recommendation is the vision of museums as spaces that play an important role in education, social cohesion and sustainable development.

The different possibilities for museums to exercise social responsibility can range from accessibility policies to the institution’s overall purpose. Exhibitions focusing on topical social issues can be developed in cooperation with the communities they address, while specific programmes can draw in the most disadvantaged populations who, due to financial reasons, physical difficulties or educational inequality, would not normally visit the museum. They can also provide a much-needed platform for reflection on human rights and gender equality within society.

In the context of current social, political, economic, environmental and technological developments, this issue of Museum International will look at the ways in which museums can play a leading role in the development of social ties and cohesion, as well as challenging discrimination and other human rights abuses.

Submission process

Abstracts of between 250 and 300 words, written in English, should be submitted for selection to [email protected]

Contributions will be on a voluntary basis.

The submission deadline is 31 August, 2015.

The following information should be included with the abstract:

-Title of submitted paper

-Name(s) of author(s)

-Professional background


Museum International is currently produced in English language only. For this reason, proposals in other languages unfortunately cannot be considered for publication.

Further information: For all queries on this Call for Papers and the submission process, please contact Aedín Mac Devitt at [email protected]