2020 Working Internationally Conference

2020 Working Internationally Conference: Can Museums and Galleries Save UK Diplomacy? Soft Power in Turbulent Times

The UK lost its #1 ranking in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. Why? Brexit and the internal turbulence that has dominated headlines and shifted time and energy away from international diplomacy. According to the authors of the index, the UK clung to the #2 spot due to its high performance in the ‘engagement, culture, education, and digital’ categories, which made up for a lacklustre performance in the government and enterprise categories.

As Brexit rumbles on, the 2020 Working Internationally conference will examine the role museums and galleries can play in supporting UK soft power. The 2017 report Britain’s Global Future: Harnessing the soft power capital of UK institutions made a powerful case for the role of museums in promoting the nation’s cultural values and contributing to its economy. Recognizing the international significance of culture, the Mendoza Review looked at how museums might support soft power and the British Council published research in 2018 that showed that what people love about a country are not products of governments but of people and institutions like museums.

The conference will examine the variety of ways in which museums and galleries create and influence soft power. We will hear from a range of representatives from museums and galleries, government agencies and NGOs to understand the interplay between policy, business and culture in the shaping of diplomacy. The conference will also explore the relationship between soft power and museum sector issues such as decolonization and digital engagement.

The Working Internationally Conference is organised by ICOM UK and NMDC with support from the British Council.

You can download the conference programme HERE

You can read the speaker biographies and abstracts HERE

You can view Facebook Live videos from the conference until 16 April 2020 at https://www.facebook.com/ICOM-UK-International-Council-of-Museums-UK-104706687823391/

Below you can download PDFs of the presentations from the conference.  Please note that many sessions were discursive and did not include formal presentations.