Conference: “The Museum in the Global Contemporary” | United Kingdom

The Museum in the Global Contemporary

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK, a conference entitled “The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now” will take place in Leicester on 20-22 April 2016.

The conference will address the global dimension of museums today, when no museum is entirely local – all are part of a global dialogue. Old geographical hegemonies and hierarchies are being swept aside, to be replaced by a new sense of global inclusion which respects, preserves and enhances cultural specificity in the conceptualisation and operation of the museum. Museums now understand that they act in the today: that the pasts they hold and the futures they imagine are negotiated in the now.

To view the museum through the lens of the ‘Global Contemporary’ is profoundly empowering and fundamentally altering. It provides a new basis for understanding and privileging diversity whether considering audiences, practice or institutional values. It exposes injustice and offers benchmarks and inspiration for social and cultural action. It transforms how we think about media, connection, collaboration and reach. It affects everything and alters the possibilities of even the smallest of museums. It opens new dialogues.

A decade ago, the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester celebrated its 40th anniversary with The Museum: A World Forum. It marked a moment when Museum Studies came together as a coherent global field. The result of that conference was Museum Revolutions, a book that considered how museums bring about change but also about how they themselves are changed.

On the other hand, 2016 conference “The Museum in the Global Contemporary” is different. It speaks to the now – a now that has only been realised with the return of China to the world stage. This historic event gave a sense that the whole planet was for the first time engaged in open communication, where all voices might be heard.

The extensive conference programme includes speakers from Britain, Europe and elsewhere, including several speakers from Asia and the Pacific. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Joan Anim-Addo (“Embracing the Global Contemporary: A Carnival Museum for Britain”), Viviane Gosselin (“Badass Programming: Sex Talk in the City @ Museum of Vancouver”), Conal McCarthy (“Indigenous Museologies: Walking into the Future Looking into the Past”), Wayne Modest (“On the Nowness of Now, or Museums in the Age of the Global Contemporary”), John Reeve (“Islam and Museums: Presenting the Glocal?”), Richard Sandell (“Museums and the Battle for Human Rights”), Matt Smith (“If You Could See through My Eyes”) and Andrea Witcomb (“Responding to the Global Contemporary in Museums – Learning to Live with Difference”). Several trips and visits are also foreseen as pre-conference activities.

Registration for the conference is open until 4 April.

For additional information about “The Museum in the Global Contemporary”, please visit

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