University museums and collections in the vanguard of contemporary societal debates
XXIe annual meeting – Université libre de Bruxelles and KU Leuven(Belgium)
In September 2019 the ICOM community discussed a new museum definition, during the international conference in Tokyo. The old one focused mainly on the traditional tasks of museums (such as taking care of the collections), whereas the new alternative definition proposed states forcefully the social and political responsibilities of museums:
Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.
Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing
During the 2020 Universeum meeting, we want to explore different ways of encouraging discussion and debate around the topics outlined above, as well as allow as many voices from the community to be heard as possible. We would like to combine short papers, with longer in-depth contributions that reflect more broadly on these themes rather than present specific projects, as well as invite dialogue and discussions from all participants. Under the main theme of “University museums and collections in the vanguard of societal contemporary debates”, we thus invite proposals for 5- or 15-minute talks on one of the following two sub-themes or for posters addressing the overall themes.