Conference 2020

Power and Voices – Echoes of Empires

14-16 October 2020

International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, UK

We are delighted to announce details of our 10th anniversary conference which will be hosted by National Museums Liverpool at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, UK. The ethos underpinning FIHRM is that all types of museums, regardless of size or resources, share similar challenges in dealing with these difficult, politically-loaded, and controversial subjects. Since FIHRM’s foundation in 2010, one of its fundamental principles has been the importance of international dialogue and the capacity to address and promote human rights issues collectively.

Ten years on this resonates more than ever. We believe it’s time for museums to step up to the plate.

About the conference theme

We live in a world where we are experiencing worsening levels of discrimination, legacies of colonial rule continue to undermine people’s basic rights and there is growing urgency about the consequences of climate change. Museums are increasingly activist and determinedly not neutral. There is growing consensus among museums that their role in society must be active, not passive.

In this challenging global context, there is one particular issue we want to focus on:  the dynamic between power and voices.  Who holds the power when we share stories?  Whose voice is absent, silenced or forgotten? What about voices for those without a material culture?  How do museums promote equality and human rights?

We wish to look at the concept of voice in its broadest sense – considering diversity and inclusion of voices in our narratives and relationships, as well as the creative interpretations of voices in addressing difficult issues. We will explore some of the following topics:

  • Human rights agendas including modern slavery, migration and climate change
  • Decolonisation, legacies of empire now and in the past
  • Social inequality and exclusion
  • Community and civic engagement
  • Art and Activism
  • Working in museums – dealing with trauma, support for staff

We hope you will join us for this exciting conference and look forward to your ideas for discussion. Details for the conference registration and a delegate bursary scheme will also be announced soon.

Call for papers – full detail

Draft Programme

Tuesday 13 October 
5-8pm Informal welcome evening and conference registration

Opportunity to visit Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum

Wednesday 14 October 
 10.00-17.00 Welcome (performance and short speeches)

Headline keynote

Theme One  – keynote and session

Theme Two – keynote and session

18.00-20.00 Evening event at World Museum

Visit special exhibition: AI: More than Human

Thursday 15 October 
10.00-17.00 Headline keynote

Theme Three – keynote and session

Theme Four – keynote and session

 18.00-21.00 Networking party
Friday 16 October   
 10.00 –13.00


Theme Five – keynote and session

Conference conclusion and farewell

 14.00-16.00 Optional: Special tours and visits in Liverpool


The conference is generously hosted by: