CFP: The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now

2016 will be the 50th anniversary of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. To celebrate, the School is organising a major international conference in April and is particularly encouraging creative contributions. It should be a really exciting and inspiring event, with something for everyone, and far beyond the typical academic conference! See below for the call for participation:

Museum Studies at Leicester 50th Anniversary Conference

20-22 April 2016

The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now

Today, no museum is entirely local – all are part of a global dialogue. Old geographical hegemonies and hierarchies are being swept aside, to be replaced by a new sense of global inclusion which respects, preserves and enhances cultural specificity in the conceptualisation and operation of the museum. Museums now understand that they act in the today: that the pasts they hold and the futures they imagine are negotiated in the now.

To view the museum through the lens of the ‘Global Contemporary’ is profoundly empowering and fundamentally altering. It provides a new basis for understanding and privileging diversity whether considering audiences, practice or institutional values. It exposes injustice and offers benchmarks and inspiration for social and cultural action. It transforms how we think about media, connection, collaboration and reach. It affects everything and alters the possibilities of even the smallest of museums. It opens new dialogues.

A decade ago, the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester celebrated its 40th anniversary with The Museum: A World Forum. It marked a moment when Museum Studies came together as a coherent global field. The result of that conference was Museum Revolutions, a book that considered how museums bring about change but also about how they themselves are changed. The Museum in the Global Contemporary is different. It speaks to the now – a now that has only been realised with the return of China to the world stage. This historic event gave a sense that the whole planet was for the first time engaged in open communication, where all voices might be heard. So let’s talk!

We invite you to join us in Leicester for our 50th anniversary conference and associated events, including a number of pre-conference trips.

Call for Papers, Poems, Plays and other Performances

This is a conference for museum scholars and professionals, and for students of museums, who want to debate the museum of this new now. Bring along your practice or your research but also consider this as an opportunity to be creative. In addition to accepting papers, we encourage contributors to consider other ways to contribute: a workshop, film, participatory performance, artwork, installation, display, digital and online contributions, a dance and so on.  We want to make space for debate and discussion in the programme and so will adopt the short paper format that has been so successful in previous conferences. We shall also be offering three NextGen Keynote slots that showcase the work of professionals and show the generational change that is taking place in terms of how we think about the museum and its engagements in the world. We want everyone to leave this conference transformed: thinking new thoughts and prepared to do new things.

If you are interested in presenting at this conference, please send a proposal of no more than one side of A4, also tell us something about yourself, and email it to the conference organisers, Viv Golding and Katy Bunning, at

The deadline for proposals is 31 December 2015 – but we would like to receive your ideas as soon as possible!

Poster and Video Exhibition

Rather than presenting in one of the sessions, you might want to make a more permanent contribution such as a poster paper, a video presentation, an audio story, and so on, which can be displayed at the conference venue and also online.  We welcome expressions of interest from researchers, practitioners, and postgraduates to name but a few! Submissions for our Poster and Video Exhibition are also open to those who are unable to join the conference in person.

Please email us at with  your ideas. The deadline for poster/video expressions of interest is later than the deadline for session proposals: 10th February 2016. Final submissions should be sent to us digitally by 20th March. Films, video and audio presentations should be no more than 3 minutes in duration. Further criteria for submissions is available from Katy Bunning and Mohan Zhu (email

Conference publication

We intend to produce an edited book from this conference but this will be a follow-on project, and will not take into account whether you presented a formal paper, produced a video or made an installation at the conference itself.


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