Conference theme

SAVE THE DATE: 25 – 29 September 2024

“House Museums at the Crossroads: How Do We Empower Social Change?”
A joint conference from DEMHIST, ICOM MPR, Tbilisi Museums Union, and ICOM Georgia

Main theme:

Historic House Museums around the globe are guardians of historical and cultural legacies, local stories, and memories. However, we envision such institutions evolving to also play a vital role in catalyzing social change in our rapidly changing world.

How can house museums respond to the task of engaging with their communities? How do we partner and collaborate to drive transformative progress? What opportunities and threats do we face in forging common bonds and interests to empower social change? We define social change as the transformation of cultural and social institutions through shifts in human interactions and relationships. As these alterations unfold, they frequently yield profound and enduring impacts on society. Social change involves modifying elements within the social structure, marked by changes in cultural symbols,
behavioral norms, social organizations, or value systems. What does this mean in practice? This is what we plan to explore within the context of historic house museums.

Communication skills and tools are critical to facing this challenge by opening a dialog with local communities through storytelling, community engagement, social media, educational programs, branding, fundraising, and membership.

That is why ICOM’s International Committee for Historic House Museums is teaming up with the International Committee for Marketing and Public Relations in the conference House Museums at the Crossroads: How Do We Empower Social Change? Hosted by the Tbilisi Museums Union and ICOM Georgia, this event will present an exciting series of keynote speeches, presentations, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, expert sessions, off-site visits, and posters focusing on best practice strategies to promote outreach and generate relevance and public value.

Show your work: Open call for presentations and participation

We invite museum professionals, scholars, policymakers, consultants, and contractors to join us in Georgia for this unique opportunity from all world regions to share best practices, learn from one another, and explore how house museums worldwide can play a central role in empowering positive social change in their communities and beyond.
This inclusive conference welcomes your experience, no matter the size of your museum. Submit a proposal featuring your projects, a work-in-progress, or an inspirational vision for the sector. You can submit a proposal for a paper, a workshop, a poster, a roundtable discussion, an experimental accessibility session, or even suggest a keynote speech – all exploring works related to house museums and the conference

Conference subthemes:
1. From House to Community: House museums at the service of society
We encourage you to share projects and ideas for community outreach and engagement. Examples could include work done in the environs of the house museum with underserved communities, accessibility, education and interpretation, inclusivity projects, and more:

  • Examining the role of museums as agents of social change and potential implications
  • Learning to listen to your local community and address the diverse needs of residents, staff, and volunteers
  • Strategies for house museums to reimagine collections and exhibitions to encourage community engagement Exploring the relevance of the Faro Convention for signatories and non-European nations alike and its emphasis on values over collections in the historic house context
  • Examining the role of house museums as Learning Centers for Social Change: educational hubs addressing contemporary social challenges

2. The Activist Museum: House museums advocating for social causes
Learning how to master tools that foster awareness and action on current social and environmental issues is critical for inspiring social change. Examples of house museums successfully integrating inclusive narratives into their programming include:

  • Examining how house museums navigate and interpret social change issues within diverse cultural contexts. Exploring the representation of women’s rights, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and religious freedom in house museum narratives and exhibits. Discussing challenges and successful approaches in presenting diverse voices and perspectives.
  • Showcasing effective strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion in house-museum narratives and exhibits.
  • Connecting ecological efforts to the ICOM’s strategic plan and its alignment with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Exploring the intersections between environmental initiatives and the overall sustainability goals of house museums.
  • Exploring the role of house museums in addressing climate action: collections, programs and innovative approaches to curating exhibits that highlight environmental issues and sustainable practices.
  • Research on how initiatives within house museums can contribute to broader discussions on democracy, decolonization, climate action, and related social challenges.

3. Welcome to Our House: Leadership and managing accessibility in house museums
You want to make your museum available to everyone. How do you build your valuesand attitudes?

  • Public vs. Private Museums: Differences in addressing theme elements and social challenges
  • Negotiation: Influencing boards, councils, and policymakers to embrace social causes
  • Impact of governance on decision-making and responsiveness.
  • Influence of ticket pricing on visitor demographics.
  • Inclusive visits: How can historic sites be made accessible to all? From physical adaptations to digital solutions.
  • Technology now: Strategies for ensuring accessibility and promoting social