ICOM Kyoto 2019

25th ICOM General Conference

1-7 September 2019

Conference Outline

Conference Name

ICOM Kyoto 2019
25th ICOM General Conference


1-7 September, 2019


Kyoto International Conference Center (ICC Kyoto)
Takaragaike, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0001, Japan
TEL: +81 (0)75-705-1229  FAX: +81 (0)75-705-1100

Conference Theme

Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition

The theme of ICOM Kyoto 2019 General Conference is “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition.” In recent years, museums around the world have begun to think more seriously about how better to contribute to society. Amidst the many global political, economic, and social changes taking place around the world, and with the underlying issues of climate change, poverty, conflict, natural disasters, human rights, and the environment, it is becoming more and more urgent for museums to consider how they might contribute to building a peaceful and sustainable future.

Every museum is unique, with its own distinctive focus—be it history, art, natural history, science, literature, or another subject. Likewise, each museum has its own collection, history, and mode and scale of presentation. But there is a limit to what museums can do as entirely independent entities. It is when museums connect with one another through regional, national, and international networks that they gain the potential to become more relevant and to better meet the social expectations of the modern world. Such efforts accordingly increase their effectiveness as “cultural hubs” and their ability to move smoothly between the traditions of the past and the innovations of the future.

The ICOM Kyoto 2019 General Conference is intended as a forum to debate how museums might best fulfill society’s new expectations. The theme “Museums as Cultural Hubs” suggests, in part, this triennial’s intended role as a gathering place to discuss various topics, including connection, cooperation, and information sharing on matters of international interest.

Such collaborations might take place among museums themselves or between museums and other cultural, educational, and research institutions, communities, experts, or stakeholders. ICOM is also reconsidering the definition of “museum,” a process that should bring to the fore a variety of national and regional museum-related issues and their potential solutions.

At the same time, the preservation and exhibition of tangible and intangible cultural heritage have long been at the heart of the museum mission. When thinking about museums of the future, it is essential that we continue to value the resources making up our shared cultural legacy as human beings, and to hand them down safely to future generations. But we also have the obligation to share such cultural heritage with today’s audiences through exhibitions and other forms of outreach. For this reason, too, museums function as “cultural hubs.” For there to be a “future of tradition,” cultural heritage must be a living, breathing entity, a bridge between past and future. In this sense, Kyoto, the thousand-year ancient capital of Japan, which has long been known for its cherished traditions as well as its pioneering innovations, is the ideal place for this ICOM General Conference.

To help us consider the potential of museums to bridge cultures, ICOM Kyoto conference will feature keynote speeches from three world-renowned intellectuals, as well as four plenary sessions and a variety of panel discussions and other events. We hope that all ICOM Kyoto 2019 participants will actively engage in the discussions and come away with a shared vision for museums in the new era.