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ICOM 2021 International Symposium paved the way for Prague 2022, the 26th ICOM General Conference and the main topic: The Power of Museums.

Part of the preparations for the International Council of Museums (ICOM) General Conference is the International Symposium that takes place a year before the conference itself and which acquaints ICOM members with the preparations, the site, the topics and the programme and form of the event. This was also the case on 25-27 August 2021, when we presented the form of the 26th ICOM General Conference Prague 2022, which will be the first ever in a hybrid format. This year’s ICOM 2021 International Symposium also took this form.

The International Symposium began with a gala evening at the Mayor’s Residence. The City of Prague is an important partner in the preparations and this reception numbered among the largest that took place here following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attention was mainly focused on the conference day, which took place at the National Museum. We presented the most important thing, which was the central theme of the conference, The Power of Museums. Museums have the power to change the world for the better and are an indispensable ingredient of society’s development. Both remote and attendant speakers presented the individual sub-topics: Purpose: Museums and Civil Society, Sustainability: Museums and the Ability to Overcome Crises, Vision: Museums and Leadership and Recommendation: Museums and New Technology.

We also presented the form of the hybrid format and the conference’s online platform gCon, via which the International Symposium was also already transmitted to remote participants. Speaking about the current state of the search for a new definition of museums in the Czech Republic were colleagues from the Department of Archaeology and Museology of Masaryk University in Brno, while the co-chairs of the ICOM Define working group provided an international perspective. Attention was given to the current state and revision of the ICOM Code of Ethics and ICOM’s work on sustainable development. At the end of the professional programme, the ICOM 2022–2028 Strategic Development Plan was presented, as were the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the International Council of Museums.

The main part of the programme will take place at the Prague Congress Centre, which we did a physical tour of, also presenting it to remote participants, as well as the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Jewish Museum in Prague, and the National Gallery Prague, where the meetings of many international committees, the ‘off-site meetings’, will take place, and the National Technical Museum and National Museum of Agriculture, which aside from off-site meetings will also host the opening of the conference.

The ICOM 2021 International Symposium had a high attendance and enthusiastic positive response. A total of 233 guests came in person, while over 800 participants connected remotely. The International Council of Museums and Czech ICOM Committee would like to hereby thank all those who attended or took part in the ICOM 2021 International Symposium and who will also participate in the General Conference. For anyone interested, a recording of the symposium can be seen with registration here: icomprague2021.gcon.me/page/home.

You can find more information on the upcoming general conference in Prague at: https://icom-czech.mini.icom.museum/en/icom-prague-2022/.

We look forward to seeing you – in person or online – at the 26th ICOM General Conference Prague 2022 from 20-28 August!

Alžběta Horáčková is from the Office of the ICOM Czech Republic for Planning the ICOM General Conference – ICOM Prague 2022.

To cite this article: Horáčková, Alžběta (2021) ‘Museums have the power to make the world a better place!’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 3-2021, 23.

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Newsletter-Autumn-2021.pdf