Conference 2010

Museums Fighting For Human Rights

The inaugural conference took place on 15 and 16 September 2010 at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, where 98 delegates from 19 countries discussed many perspectives on museums and human rights.

The conference ran under the patronage of UNESCO and the overall theme of the conference was Museums Fighting for Human Rights.

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Themes of the conference

Active Communities

How can communities become active citizens through museum programmes and educational initiatives? When do museum visitors change from being passive visitors to active campaigners? Can museums be the catalyst for communities to make a difference to local, national and international campaigns?

Exhibiting Sensitive Histories

What have we learnt from developing exhibitions and permanent collections around subjects that have at times been regarded as the unrepresentable? What are the ethical and moral dimensions which museums must negotiate when focusing on these issues?

Museums as Active Campaigners

Is it the duty of museums to actively engage current issues, not only in an academic or curatorial sense but at grassroots campaigning level?  Can museums really make a difference?  Current practices and examples will be particularly relevant.

Children, Young People and Human Rights

How can museums use history to inspire children and young people to connect with their past and understand their place in society today? What are the most effective teaching styles to explore difficult and challenging histories? Are museums the best environments to promote successful learning in History and Citizenship?

Papers and presentations

You can download papers and presentations of the conference below.

Day One: Museums as active campaigners


Opening Speech

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David Fleming, Director, National Museums Liverpool, Founding FIHRM President

Museums, moralities and human rights

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Richard Sandell, Director/Head of Department, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK

Session 1: Creating a voice for human rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights Gathering Project - Setting the stage

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Judith Dueck, Director: Research Content and Scholarship, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Canada

The Aegis and Role of the first Holocaust Centre on the African Continent

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Richard Freedman, Director, South African Holocaust Foundation, Cape Town South Africa

Promoting human rights and social justice – the Museums of Malawi

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Michael Gondwe, Curator-Education Coordinator, Museums of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi

Session 2: Memorialisation and Contemporary Human Rights

The Struggle for Human Rights, the Public Awareness and the Community Programs

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Luisa de Pena, Director, Memorial Museum of Dominican Resistance, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The Museum of Genocide Victims – Attiudes towards Human Rights today

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Vilma Juozeviciute, The Museum of Genocide Victims, Vilnius, Lithuania

Kigali Memorial Centre
Freddy, Umutanguha, Director, Kigali Memorial Centre, Rwanda, James Smith, CEO, Aegis Trust, UK

Session 3: Diversity, Social Justice and Education in Human Rights Museums

From Memory to Action: How Holocaust education can change our response to genocide today

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Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Director of Research and Projects, Committee of Conscience, US Holocaust Memorial Museum

White Bus Action 1945 and experiences – what have we learned?

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Birthe Mueller, House of Humanity, Swedish Red Cross National Centre, Stockholm, Sweden

Waikato Museum – celebrating cultural diversity
Crystal Mann, Social History Curator, Waikato Museum, Hamilton, New Zealand

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Session 4: Making a difference Campaigning Museums

Musée d’Histoire de Nantes (title TBC)
Krystel Gualde, Head of Conservation, Musée d’Histoire de Nantes, Nantes, France

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The object of culture Françoise Verges, Director for Maison des civilisations et de l’unité réunionnaise, President of the Comite pour la mémoire et l'Histoire de l'Esclavage, Réunion

The Virtual Museum of Human Rights

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Daan Bronkhorst & Nick Verouden, Amnesty International, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Day Two: Children Young People and Human Rights

Museums Fighting For Human Rights

Keynote: Kevin Bales
President and Co Founder, Free the Slaves

Overview of Education activities at National Museums Liverpool

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Carol Rogers, Executive Director Education, Communities and Visitors

Make the Link, Break the Chain – Museums working with campaign agencies

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George Anang’a, Plan International UK

Holocaust education in post-Apartheid South Africa - impetus for social activism or a short-lived catharsis?

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Tracey Petersen, Education Director, Cape Town Holocaust Centre, Cape Town, South Africa

Active Communities

Overview of Working with Communities at NML

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Claire Benjamin, Head of Communities, National Museums Liverpool

Social Media for Social Change

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Corey Timpson, Manager, New Media, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Canada

When working with communities is it the ownership of perspective that is the biggest question needing an answer?

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Brett Mason, Director Museums Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Liverpool case study - International Slavery Museum

Tony Lloyd, CEO Anthony Walker Foundation, Liverpool and Brenda Garner, Stop the Traffik, Liverpool ACT Group

Exhibiting Sensitive Histories

Overview of the International Slavery Museum

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Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of International Slavery Museum, National Museums Liverpool

A new Museum of Independence

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Camilo Sanchez, Museological Adviser, Museum of Independence, Bogota, Colombia

Designing for Hearts and Minds: The Crafting of Slavery Histories at the International African American Museum

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Paul Williams, Senior Content Developer, Ralph Applebaum Associates, New York, USA

Continuing collecting efforts for the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum

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Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Department of Holocaust and Genocide History, Imperial War Museum, London, UK


Marketplace of Ideas - Poster sessions

Poster sessions are widely used at conferences to replace concurrent sessions of oral presentations of papers. It is a visual and concise method of presenting one's work. All posters will be displayed in the conference space and will be available for viewing by the public throughout the conference.

  • Warrington Young Roots Education about Slavery (WYRES) project: a real partnership between museums, creatives and eductors helps young people uncover real answers to real questions no one dared to face before

View Poster as PDF
Alexandra Robinson, University of Liverpool

  • Museums as venues and initiators of cultural mediation
    Hazel Brookes, Researcher – Museum Consultant, Chepstow Museum, Chepstow, St Kitts
  • Sensitive Histories in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
    Rhonda Hinter, Head: Exhibit Research, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg Canada
  • Documenting Historic Sites of Struggle and Liberation in the New South Africa
    Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Department of Africana Studies, Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), Co-Director, New York, USA
  • Displaying Records of Slavery in St Kitts-Nevis
    Victoria O’Flaherty, Director of Archives, National Archives, Basseterre
  • UNESCO Associated Schools & Programme
    Anne Breivik, UK National Coordinator, UNESCO Associated Schools (ASPnet) & Programme Secretary (Culture), UK National Commission for UNESCO
  • Precious cargo: a travelling museum providing artistic and educational exhibitions and programming
    Cheryl Ann Bolden, Artist/Curator, Association Musée des Diasporas Africaines

Conference report and feedback


Click here to read about the outcomes of the conference. (Coming soon)

Here are just some of the comments that we received after the conference:

Overall comments

"A long overdue event – a fantastic concept with enormous potential for HR and museums globally."

"Inspiring conference – groundbreaking"

"This was a great 2 days out, very stimulating. I’m sure positive ideas and actions will come out of it in my own work. Thank you"

"This is a fabulous initiative. I finally felt like I was with colleagues I wanted to speak with."

"Je tenais à vous remercier très sincèrement, ainsi que toute l’équipe de Liverpool, de cette très belle rencontre que vous avez initiée la semaine dernière. Le programme était passionnant et très bien agencé. Les débats ont aussi permis des échanges, qui n’attendent plus qu’à continuer. Et les contacts pris ont été, pour ma part, nombreux et fructueux, sur les questions de la traite et de l’esclavages essentiellement mais pas uniquement. Je ne taris pas d’éloges sur ces deux jours depuis que je suis rentrée. Vous nous direz quelle suite il vous semblera bon de donner à cette rencontre, le musée d’histoire de Nantes sera ravi d’y participer."


"I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the conference. It was inspirational and made me realise why I work in the museums sector and its very real potential to change lives and make a difference. I trust the federation can grow and move forward in the coming years and would like to pledge my support in any way I can to help make that happen."


"I would like to thank you for organizing the wonderful congress. I found it very creative happening, learned a great deal, and met many people. The organization was also perfect. My compliments".

"Thanks to all of you for a fantastic conference last week! It was very uplifting to listen to all the speakers and to discuss issues on human rights with colleagues from all over the world! The conference was also very well organized. FIHRM is a fantastic initiative."

"I wanted to thank and congratulate you and your team, for a wonderful conference. I left inspired. Thank you."

Tweets @FIHRM

To summarise: #fihrm inspiring, re-energising, galvanising, worthwhile. So well-organised and approachable, enthusiastic delegates.

@FIHRM Thanks for such an interesting and inspirational couple of days, really got a huge amount from the conference #fihrm

A very inspiring day at inaugural #fihrm conference. Important & innovative work from around the world

La reconnaissance de la diversité est une demande démocratique, pas une question de repentance mais de représentation et d'éducation #FIHRM

#FIHRM passionate belief in humanity and that if you ask people to do something to help change society, they will do it.

Partners and Support

The conference was generously granted UNESCO Patronage

Media Partner

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Hotel Partner


Other Partners


© 2011 Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM)