The Power of Museums: Sustainability

– Call for Papers –



The global museum community meets in Prague for the 26th ICOM General Conference from 20 – 28 August 2022. This general conference will focus on the strength, position, and capacity of museums in building a free, democratic, and educated society. It will also consider how museums are changing and adapting to meet the challenges and needs of the 21st century. The ability to cope with the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will also be discussed by the global community of museum professionals.

The power of museums operates on many levels and in many contexts. Museums are unique human organizations with the ability for dialogic engagement with diverse communities and the broader public on the critical issues of our times. We are presently experiencing confronting challenges where there is a heightened sense of urgency for action and changes in many inter-related areas of nature and culture, perhaps the most challenging in all human history. We are challenged by climate change, the environmental emergency, inequality, social injustice, and the impact of Covid-19 on our professional practices and social and economic conditions. We are also challenged by economic and existential questions related to definition and purpose that test our capacity for adaptability, resilience and even survival.

Such big questions require broad debates at the widest possible level. UMAC, NATHIST, ICME and ICR – joining their members for the first time – are calling for papers seeking answers and, perhaps, even more questions. Are museums effectively making progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Are museums becoming truly polyphonic and inclusive of many voices? Are the knowledge systems of First Nation’s peoples becoming part of the epistemic systems of the museum? Are museums truly transitioning from being points of cultural authority to being parts of a network of cultural agency? How can museums harness their power to become effective agents of change?

Let’s share and be inspired by hearing of examples of projects across and between different collecting disciplines and across and between different institutional settings. We welcome experiences, case-studies and in-depth reflections that help us power our networks and push the frontier of our understanding about these issues.

We are interested in papers that address the following topics:

Session I- The Power of Museums: Inclusion / The Making of an Inclusive Museum

  • Diversity, inclusion, and decolonisation in all aspects of museum functions
  • Challenges and prospects in making museums polyphonic spaces
  • Incorporating different knowledge systems into museum practices

Session II- The Power of Museums: SDGs / Museums’ Actions for Sustainable Development

  • Coupling SDGs and Museum practices
  • Enhancing the effectiveness, the implementation of SDGs
  • Climates actions to support the sustainable development of museums

Session III- The Power of Museums: Harnessing the Power of Networks

  • The transition of museums from an authority to a network of agencies
  • Involving communities in museum practices
  • How transdisciplinary innovates museums


Conference Format

Hybrid, accepting both physical and virtual speakers.

Oral papers and digital posters.

Conference language: English (no simultaneous translation will be provided).

Date: 22-23 August 2022, Prague (included in the 26th ICOM General Conference).


Submission and Deadline


Send the abstract before 31 March 2022 to Phaedra Fang


For more info