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The 2021 ICOM ICEE Annual Conference will be held online from Tuesday, September 28 to Thursday, September 30, 2021, in collaboration with the Museum of Art and History of the City of Geneva (MAH), and ICOM Switzerland.

The safety of our members, participants, partners, and collaborators is our top priority. With the ongoing uncertainties of the global pandemic, along with travel restrictions and limited funds for travel, we are aware that it will be difficult for many to join an in-person conference. This is why the organizing committee has decided for a fully digital conference.

From unique presentations to a variety of networking opportunities, the 2021 ICEE Annual Conference will provide participants with a global digital platform to connect and share ideas and experiences with museum professionals from around the world.

The Conference Theme

More than a year after the global pandemic forced institutions to shut down their doors, museums, science centers, and exhibition developers around the world are still trying to figure out ways to keep their exhibition offerings relevant to their missions, feasible with reduced budgets, and accessible to audiences.

Reimagining Exhibition Exchange goes beyond a review and adaptation of logistics and procedures. It involves rethinking the way audiences engage with exhibition content, examining opportunities and challenges brought about by technology and digital infrastructures, and discussing new approaches to developing more sustainable exhibitions.

Reimagining new strategies for exhibition exchange also includes the need for improved business models, enhanced working environments, and stronger collaborations between institutions. What realistic, practical steps can museums take to embrace change? What can museum and exhibition professionals do when institutions are slow to change?

For its 2021 Annual Conference, the ICEE reflects on the future of exhibition exchange in a post-pandemic world, examining the powerful ways in which exhibitions contribute to reimagining the role of museums in an increasingly competitive cultural marketplace. We invite colleagues from all over the world to explore Reimagining Exhibition Exchange in a post-pandemic world through the lens of three sub-themes: Audience Engagement, Technology, and Operations and Practices.

Session 1: Reimagining Audience Engagement

The isolating impact of COVID-19 has changed the way people interact with museums and science centers, especially exhibitions and educational programs. While some audience groups turned to online content and virtual programming as a way to find relief from the isolation and stress, others looked for meaningful learning experiences for children and adults. At the same time, social and political drivers of change reinforced the need to discuss what roles museums play in embracing social justice as well as diversity, equality, and accessibility.

How have museum audiences changed because of the pandemic? Will these changes remain relevant after museums return to normal? How do you ensure your exhibitions remain relevant and connected to audiences and stakeholders?

Session 2: Reimagining Technology

The physical presence of visitors in exhibition galleries and the digital experience of virtual audiences can no longer be considered separately. During the pandemic, technology emerged as a lifesaver for many institutions around the world as an immediate way to connect museums with audiences throughout compelling, immersive and personalized experiences.

How can museums assess which digital investments will be sustainable in the long run? What best practices can guide museums’ adoption of digital technologies at low cost?

Session 3: Reimagining Operations and Practices

The abrupt changes caused by the pandemic in the operational environment of museums, science centers and exhibition developers call on us to rethink the way we work. From reduced staff and financial limitations to revised logistics and remote work, we are trying to create more effective strategies to continue our work in exhibition exchange. Improved business models, enhanced working environments, stronger collaborations between institutions, and the need to develop sustainable and eco-friendly exhibitions are some of the ways our members have been reimagining their operations and practices.

What business models, partnerships, strategies, procedures, and practices has your museum established to keep exhibition development, production, and touring logistics working? Has your institution tried any that did not work?

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