In August (20 – 28), Prague hosted for the first time the world’s largest conference of museum workers – the 26th ICOM General Conference, which is one of the most important global events dedicated to museums and the experts who work in them. More than 3,000 experts from 123 different countries physically participated in the conference. Since 1948, many experts are meeting at the conference to discuss current issues and problems that museums face.
For the first time in the history of the ICOM conference, this year was held in a hybrid format. The gCon virtual platform allowed participants from around the world to participate in the professional program from the comfort of their homes or museum office. The venue of the conference was the Congress Center Prague (KCP), where the professional part of the program took place. KCP provided the necessary capacity for plenary lectures, panel discussions, or round tables, as well as a large number of parallel halls for meetings of individual committees, workshops, a memorial lecture or a lecture on the protection of cultural heritage in Ukraine, spaces for the accompanying museum fair or Expo Forum, where exhibiting companies had the opportunity to present their news.
“The Power of Museums” was the motto of this year’s ICOM conference, which dealt with four key themes:
A rich accompanying professional program awaited the participants of the general conference, during which they had the opportunity to visit Prague and other parts of the Czech Republic. A total of 40 excursions were prepared, during which the participants got to know our country’s cultural and natural wealth. The social part of the program is also worth mentioning. This included opening parties at the National Technical and National Agricultural Museums.
The 26th ICOM General Conference also included the Museum Fair, which was attended by 54 exhibitors from around the world.
On the last day of the professional part of the program, a festive evening took place in the building of the National Museum, which symbolically closed this part of the program.
The closing ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and outputs of the conference, especially the establishment of a new definition of the museum, as well as the formal handover of the ICOM flag to the organizing committee of the 27th General Conference.
The members of the Czech ICOM Committee made a symbolic flag in the traditional Czech way, namely with cross-stitch embroidery. The flag traveled through museums throughout the Czech Republic and passed through the hands of hundreds of museum workers, who gradually embroidered it.
The biggest success of the conference was the redefinition of the term museum: “A museum is a permanent non-profit institution in the service of society that professionally processes, collects, preserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Museums are open to the public, accessible and inclusive. They promote and develop diversity and sustainability and operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of diverse communities. They offer various stimuli for learning, entertainment, reflection and knowledge sharing.
Finally, we would like to thank the International Council of Museums ICOM, the Czech ICOM Committee, partners and sponsors, speakers and participants, as well as the implementation team of GUARANT International, led by senior project manager Renata Somolová.