ICOM Rio 2013: Part 1

Thanks to a bursary from the British Council and ICOM UK, with additional support from the V&A, I am fortunate to attend ICOM’s 23rd General Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 10 – 17 August 2013.

Not only do I face the challenge of navigating a huge general conference for the first time, I am also delivering two presentations, and writing about my experience for the British Council Transform website and the V&A Network. There’s also a full report for the British Council and ICOM UK, and article for the Museums Association website to write upon my return.

The overall theme of the conference is ‘museums (memory + creativity) = social change’ which is defined by ICOM as:

“showing that the richness of our historical heritage, preserved and displayed by museums, together with the inventiveness and vitality that have characterised the museum sector’s action in recent years, are where the strength of museum institutions lies today.”

In other words, I think this mathematical equation is highlighting museums’ ability to work with the content of their collections or research in a creative way to make a positive influence on society. You could also say is a way for museums to define themselves in modern day society.

I am attending the conference under the umbrella of the ICEE (ICOM International Committee for Exhibition Exchanges) and I am presenting about the V&A’s recent experience of collaborating with a number of sponsors, organisations, and individuals to realise the successful David Bowie is exhibition. I am also presenting at the ICEE Exhibition Marketplace on V&A touring exhibitions.

David Bowie is bag and touring exhibitions leaflets. © Dana Andrew, 2013
© Dana Andrew, 2013

So how am I preparing for my trip, and what do I think the conference (and Rio!) have in store for me? I’ve never visited Brazil, so I am fascinated to learn more about this vibrant and diverse country, the city of Rio, and the Brazilian arts scene. According to IBRAM (the Brazilian Institute of Museums) there are 3,251 museums in Brazil, and 254 museological institutions in Rio alone – a scale that is hard to comprehend! I am going well prepared with a large pack of business cards and information on V&A touring exhibitions, and have been brushing up on my networking skills.  I’m also crossing my fingers for no technical hitches with my presentations. Wish me luck!

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