2021 – Baku

ICME, INTERCOM & ICOM Azerbaijan Joint Conference
13 – 15 October 2021, Baku, Azerbaijan

Transforming Collecting Policies in Museums: the Need for Leadership and Societal Responsibility


Deadline for submissions: 31st March 2020
Notification of acceptance: 15th May 2020
Session 1: Decolonizing Museums: Restitution, Repatriation & Healing
Session 2: Museums and Ethnotourism
Session 3: Leadership and Museum Management for Our Times

The Boards of ICME, INTERCOM & ICOM Azerbaijan are pleased to announce the call for papers for the joint conference to be held at the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum (the oldest and biggest carpet museum in the world) in Baku between October 14th– 16th2020.

We live in a complex, confused and fast changing world. Museums are very important cultural and social institutions and must respond to and reflect these changes. Museums are responsible for making their visitors and the wider society conscious of current debates through their actions, exhibitions, events and activism. The challenges of decolonizing museums, engaging with ethnotourism and providing museum leadership that enables museums to address important contemporary issues are relevant, and provocative themes for our Conference. The themes all confront the role of our museums in our time and the future. If decolonizing the museum means repatriating objects what does this mean for our collecting policies? How do ethnographic museums engage with the increasing tourist demand for `experiences’ with real people? How should the management of museums plan for the future and change their practices and governance structures to respond to new expectations? We invite you to participate in this challenging debate!

The main aims of the conference are the following:

  • To open a dialogue between scholars of Ethnographic and other museums and to offer a platform for the presentation and discussion of recent research;
  • To highlight the significance of the concepts of Decolonizing Museums, Ethnotourism Management and Leadership and Museum management for our times;
  • To facilitate a global dialogue on these themes by bringing together museum professionals from all around the world,
  • To critically engage with existing theories and methodologies and to provide a platform for the presentation of new research and initiatives that will help us to tackle these core issues and the ways in which we might transform the concept of `collecting’ that has defined museums for decades.

Conference participation
Scholars and museum specialists from around the world are invited to submit their proposals for contributions that will speak to one of the three themes: Decolonizing Museums, Ethnotourism Management and Leadership and Museum Management. Graduate and doctoral students are also encouraged to submit their proposals.

Each session will be opened by a keynote address of invited speakers whose CVs and topic descriptions are available below.

Session 1: Decolonizing Museums: Restitution, Repatriation & Healing
INTERCOM Keynote speaker: Hans van de Bunte, Project Director Sarawak Museum Campus, Kuching, Malaysia, started his professional career in museums in Amsterdam and Leiden. Presently he lives in Kuching (Borneo), heading the Sarawak Museum Campus Project. He is leading the project’s successful development to realize by the end of 2020 a new museum complex. The new museum will have a curated 6,000 m² exhibition, a conservation centre with collection storage facilities and the complex will include the renovation and refurbishment of 3 historic museums and gardens. A new business plan and ordinance will provide the museum with a new management framework for ensuring a 21st century way of working. Hans believes strongly in building on local talent by nurturing and training staff to work with international museum standards. He believes in coaching leadership by creating an environment for colleagues and institutes to work together and share knowledge. During his working life he has been leading the curation of multiple exhibitions, often working with intercultural teams. Besides his Board membership of ICOM INTERCOM, he is a member of the Asia Europe Museums Network (ASEMUS) Executive Committee and partook in one of the ICOM working groups for the new museum definition.In his Keynote he will address the urgency of dealing with colonial ‘orphaned’ collections and his experience in connecting them with their source communities. He will argue how giving authority to the source communities will benefit the knowledge development of the ‘orphaned’ objects and create pride within the local communities. During his years at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and now at the Sarawak Museum in Borneo, he has been playing a managerial role in assisting and leading from different positions in the complex processes to reconnect historic collections with their origins.

Session 2: Museums and Ethnotourism
ICME Keynote speaker: Kamani Perera, gained 30  years professional experience as a Librarian and is presently working in the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka. A master degree graduate in information management (MIM), University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and visiting lecturer to Sri Lankan universities. She is a regular speaker at international conferences and has spoken in many countries, including India, Thailand, Japan, Egypt, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Finland, Jordan, Bhutan, Germany, Ireland, France, USA, and UK. Ms. Kamani Perera argues that Cultural and heritage tourism(ethnotourism) is defined as travel directed toward experiencing the arts, heritage and activities that truly represent the stories and people of the past and present. This concept has received much attention during the past decade. Cultural and heritage tourism (ethnotourism) is one of the best parts of the tourism industry as it is a more powerful economic development tool. It has been revealed that museums are now playing a major role not only in the wider sphere of arts, but also within tourism and leisure. Museums can no longer sit back and expect that people will start queuing up. The role of museums have changed and they need to attract larger audiences. Session 2 will illuminate the different problems connected with the Ethnotourism Management in museums arround the world.

Session 3: Leadership and Museum Management for Our Times
INTERCOM keynote speakers: Carol Ann Scott and Lizzy Moriarty

Dr Carol Ann Scott is the Executive Director of Carol Scott Associates Limited based in London, UK. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Her work has focused on leveraging museum and heritage value to maximize their impact through strategic planning and positioning, audience research and development. She had extensive experience as a senior museum professional having worked at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (Australia), the Museum of London (on the London Museums Hub Olympic Project) and the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, Canada. She has most recently worked as the Senior Evaluator on the (SARAT) project.

Ms Lizzy Moriarty is the Non-Executive Director of Cultural Innovations Ltd. and a freelance museum and cultural heritage consultant. Cultural Innovations is a leading, international, cultural and heritage consultancy dedicated to the visioning, planning and development of museum and cultural heritage experiences, working with clients across the globe. Ms Moriarty’s previous experience includes working as the Head of Touring Exhibitions at the Natural History Museum and International Engagement Manager at the British Museum in London.

Museums need leaders who can grasp the realities of the present and build visions for the future. As we start a new decade, INTERCOM is making a step-change to focus on their role in supporting museum leadership.

The session is divided into two parts. In the first part of the session, we define our terms – what is leadership and what is its relationship to management? This is followed by a presentation of the findings from a 2020 INTERCOM survey which has sought to build a global picture of the issues facing museum leadership across regional differences.

In the second part, delegates will be invited to focus on specific leadership challenges in their region and in general. Empowering and inspiring demoralised staff who are facing competing objectives with scarce resources – these challenges require skilled leadership. This will be an opportunity to discuss what support is needed, where the gaps are and what role INTERCOM can play in supporting current cultural leaders and developing emerging leaders.

Submitting a proposal
ICME, INTERCOM & ICOM Azerbaijan invite proposals for contributions that relate to one of the three themes of the Conference.  Presentations can be made in two forms:

  1. Paper /Power point presentation (15minutes)
  2. Pecha-Kucha presentation (6 minutes and 40 seconds)

In Pecha-Kucha (Japanese: ぺちゃくちゃ) presentations 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham first developed this format in 2003 in Tokyo, to keep presentations concise and fast paced (https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/how-to-make-great-presentations-with-pecha-kucha).

Proposals should include the following information in English

  1. International committee, No. of ICOM membership
  2. Which programme theme you are applying for and the preferred form (paper /Power point presentation / Pecha-Kucha presentation)
  3. Title of submitted presentation
  4. Abstract (do not exceed 300 words)
  5. Name(s) of Author(s)
  6. Affiliation(s) & full address(es) & email address
  7. Support equipment required
  8. All submissions must include a 100‐word bio with a photograph of each presenter.

Please send proposals as soon as possible as a Word Document attachment to the e-mail: icom.azerbaijan.secretariat@gmail.comwith the subject reference “ICME & INTERCOM proposal (your name)”.

The proposals will be evaluated by the Joint Conference Committee of ICOM Azerbaijan, ICME and INTERCOM

Follow the news about the conference on websites:




Committees will offer a grant for one or two presenters who are their active members. The call will also be published on the links above.