Conference 2013

FIHRM-INTERCOM 2013: Museums and Human Rights
13-15 August 2013
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The fourth FIHRM conference was run jointly with Intercom, the ICOM International Committee on Museum Management. The conference brought together a number of different countries to debate and talk about their work on museums and human rights.

Museums need to learn new skills as the importance of social responsibility continues to grow. David Fleming, founding President of FIHRM, argues that museums should actively take a position on controversial and difficult issues.

Museums should place themselves at the heart of debates and be open about political issues. Many museums, regardless of size or resources, share similar challenges in dealing with difficult and controversial subjects.

In these sessions, we discussed recent and current examples of progressive work, in terms of combating inequalities, discrimination and other human rights abuses.


One of the key outcomes of the meeting in collaboration with INTERCOM was the Rio declaration which states:

RIO DECLARATION (13 August 2013)

“INTERCOM and FIHRM reject all forms of intolerance and discrimination and call upon governments in all nations to respect and celebrate different political, sexual and religious preferences and to encourage their museum communities to explore issues, free from the fear of censorship or political pressure.”

“INTERCOM y la FIHRM rechazan toda forma de intoleranciaydiscriminacióny hacen un llamamiento a todos losgobiernosen todas lasnacionespara respetar y celebrar las diferenciaspolíticas, sexuales y religiosas,asícomoa animar a sus comunidades museisticas a explorar estos aspectos libres de temor a ser censurados o recibir presionespolíticas. “

If you support the Rio Declaration, we would like to hear from you. We would like to share the message as widely as possible, so please do contribute a translation in another language if you can. Write to us at

Special Memorial Lectures

FIHRM was delighted to be part of a joint event of Special Evening of Memorial Lectures. Both papers were presented by FIHRM members and looked at different considerations of social change in Museums.

Luisa de Pena, Director General of the Dominican Resistance Memorial Museum and Executive Director of the Mirabal Sisters House Museum delivered the 8th INTERCOM Stephen E. Weil Memorial Lecture. Luisa presented an analysis of museums as institutions with a responsibility to treat issues of human rights and democratic values, working with historical facts and their application in the present.

Richard Sandell, Professor in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom presented the CECA Alma Wittlin Memorial Lecture. Taking as a starting point the equation at the heart of this ICOM triennial – Museums (Memory and Creativity)= Social Change – the lecture explored the social impact of museums, focusing in on their potential to actively shape the conversations which societies have about difference, equality and social justice.

Download the publication: ICOM_Memorial_Lectures_2013


FIHRM INTERCOM 2013 took place as part of the ICOM Triennial Conference 2013 in Rio, Brazil.