World view at MA conference

Simon Stephens, 29.06.2016
International cooperation high on the agenda after Brexit vote
Speakers from Brazil, Argentina, Kenya, Sweden and the Netherlands will be among the many presenters at this year’s Museums Association Conference & Exhibition, which takes places in Glasgow on 7-9 November.

One of the keynote speakers at the conference is Alexandre Fernandes from the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who will discuss how his remarkable museum, which opened last year and is designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, helps people think about how society is changing and how we might live in the future.

Also from South America will be speakers from the ESMA Memory Site in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This museum opened in 2015 on what was the largest of the 600 Clandestine Detention and Assassination Centres that operated during Argentina’s military regime in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a museum related to personal loss and collective trauma, there was a lot of debate between survivors, families and museum professionals about how it should develop. Working with its community, the ESMA Memory Site encountered diverse expectations of what was appropriate to present in this context.

Following the UK’s recent Brexit vote, the future of cultural cooperation in Europe is bound to be high on the agenda at the MA conference. Sessions include a talk led by the Network of European Museum Organisations looking at how museums can work in partnership.
This will focus on two museums that have developed innovative projects about migration: Museum Friedland in Germany and Jamtli Open Air Museum in Sweden.
From the Netherlands, Renée Römkens, the director of Atria, Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History in Amsterdam, will be speaking at a session looking at how women are represented in museums and galleries.

The MA conference will also feature Jasminko Halilovic, the director of the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a session exploring how museums in the UK and Europe are researching, presenting and sharing stories of conflict.

There will also be a session considering the work of Cultural Heritage without Borders, which works with museums and heritage to support democracy, human rights and peacebuilding. Speakers include Tatjana Cvjeticanin, from the National Museum in Belgrade, Serbia, and Munuve Mutisya from the Community Peace Museums Foundation in Kenya.

And Fiona Romeo, the director of digital content and strategy at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, will be chairing a session that considers what it takes to establish faster rhythms of working in museums to better reflect the pace of wider society.

She will be joined by speakers from the Science Gallery Dublin, Tate, Design Museum in London and the Victoria and Albert Museum.