ICOM Europe Annual Conference 2023

ICOM Europe Annual Conference “Public policies for sustainable development in museums in Europe: Comparisons, cooperation” will be held on 18th November 2023 in Lahti Museum, Finland.

Information and call for participation for the session

In recent years, European museums have actively embraced the cause of sustainable development, committing themselves to proactive strategies that encompass organizational innovations, thematic and educational programming, and the promotion of responsible attitudes among their staff and visitors. This heightened awareness has been accelerated by climate-related events in the past two years but originates from a broader reflection on the evolution of museums in the 21st century.

The proliferation of museums worldwide over the past few decades has led to ongoing questioning of their purposes, collections, social roles, and even their fundamental “definition.” The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a reevaluation of the “next museum,” one that is less focused on producing exhibits and more on being participatory, inclusive, and socially responsible. Post-crisis, this vision shifted toward the urgent need to rebuild audiences, attendance, and resources. Resilience, initially associated with survival during the crisis, transformed into an ambition to restore culture to a central position in our daily lives. Museums quickly reasserted their attractiveness and innovation, modernizing their operations in the process.

The commitment to sustainable development, in alignment with the broad UN recommendations, goes beyond mere goodwill and frugality; it has become an essential imperative. At the G20 meeting in Rome in August 2020, the president of ICOM highlighted that “museums are among the most credible institutions.” While this accolade is flattering, it also carries an element of responsibility. Ministers, by endorsing this statement in the final declaration, committed to integrating it into national public policies.

Museums’ credibility among the public stems from their role as purveyors of verified and sourced information and custodians of authentic objects. This scientific responsibility holds a central place in the definition adopted in Prague and is especially crucial in a world where distinguishing truth from falsehood is increasingly challenging. It is within this context that many museum institutions and organizations have placed sustainable development at the core of their policies and programming, actively engaging their audiences in this vital endeavor.

The upcoming professional days in Lahti in November will explore the impact of national public policies on museums in Europe. Specifically, we aim to assess the effectiveness and sufficiency of public resources allocated to cultural policies in supporting and encouraging museums. Our annual conference endeavors to identify and compare public policies across different European countries, extracting valuable insights for the future.

We invite members of ICOM Europe, including presidents of national committees or their representatives, to share their experiences and perspectives, contributing to the development of a comprehensive understanding of the various typologies of support for national policies and providing a framework for evaluating their scope and impact.

The chosen theme aims:

  • To Recall the pioneering role of ICOM, which launched a sustainable development working group in 2016;
  • Highlight the role of ICOM Europe’s national committees, many of which have set up working groups, conducted surveys among their members, relayed initiatives and promoted good practices. The aim is to better identify and characterise the actions undertaken by museums in Europe.
  • Valueing the “members” of ICOM Europe who are observers and sometimes contributors to national cultural policies and who are able to help sketch out a panorama of cultural policies implemented by the states to support their museums in their determination to take up environmental issues. What means are available to museums? What measures of effectiveness?

Draft Agenda:

  • Opening and introductory by ICOM Europe board
  • Session 1: presentation of ICOM’s sustainable development programme, intervention by the president (or representative) of the ad hoc working group
  • Session 2: interventions by the partners of the days in Finland: Nemo, Ecsite
  • Session 3: presentations by ICOM Europe members of the range of public aid and incentives dedicated to sustainable development in museums in their countries
  • Conclusion. Avenues for the future.


The day will take the form of working seminar, open to all ICOM Europe members (on-site or online) and Ne-mo audiences.

  • The debates will be translated into the official languages of ICOM, recorded and published.
  • A call for papers to be launched and is continued until the end of september and the final programm to finish in october 2023
  • Participation is free. Participants are responsible for their own stay. participants will be invited to a welcome party.
  • Material details will be worked out in partnership with Ecsite and NEMO.

Practical information:
Visual arts museum, Päijänteenkatu 9, 15140 Lahti.
Seminar room – Kumma Workshop


  • Hotel Lahden Seurahuone https://www.sokoshotels.fi/en/lahti/sokos-hotel-lahden-seurahuone et
  • Scandic Lahti City https://www.scandichotels.com/hotels/finland/lahti/scandic-lahti-city .

How to reach Lahti:

  • Helsinki airport https://www.helsinki-airport.com/ . From airpor, take the train to De l'aéroport, train
  • Tikkurila and another train for Lahti https://www.helsinki-airport.com/train.php . 9 minutes then 50 minutes.