Museums Association of the Caribbean 2018 International Museums Conference

Virtual Museum Exhibition

The International Museums Conference took place from November 6 to 10, 2018, at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados under the theme: “Itinerant Identities: Museum Communities/Community Museums”, in conjunction with the 29th Annual General Meeting of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC).

The conference comprised multiple keynote lectures, paper sessions, evening receptions and cultural tours. The conference aimed to bring together professionals and students working in or on museums and historic sites from across the globe to address the ways in which museums conceptualize communities and communities engage with museums for the benefit of all. With over 100 registered participants building knowledge and sharing experiences from the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe and Africa, the conference organizers are satisfied to have met that goal.

One of the significant outcomes of the conference, according to founding member Alissandra Cummins, was a session hosted by Historian and Dean of Humanities at the UWI St Augustine Campus, Dr Heather Cateau, to examine regional museum epistemologies and programming over the last three decades and to consider how to deliver programming that is much more in keeping with the requirements of the Caribbean, especially in the area of online accessibility. Out of that session was the establishment of a working committee to examine in-depth, and deliver a report within the next year, on how well the curricula offerings on museum studies by institutions in the Caribbean are responding to current and future needs, or how they must be adapted, renewed and transformed.  

The conference, which was organized as a partnership between MAC, the EU-LAC-Museums project and The UWI, served as a means by which the academic and museum communities could come together and receive a number of important updates on the project. Cummins noted that reporting was particularly focussed on community work within museums, developments of applications in digital technology, and heritage risk management especially surrounding natural disasters such as those caused by hurricanes. She said that it was anticipated that there would be an update by the museum curricula working group at the 2019 conference.  

In keeping with the theme of the conference, UWI research on migration and gender was fed into the virtual online museum that is one of the major components of the EU-LAC project. Conference participants were given the opportunity to see the first version and to ask questions of the technical team responsible for the virtual museum’s design and development. The intention is for all museums across the Latin American and Caribbean countries covered by the project to contribute to the virtual museum. Cummins said it was up to each museum to identify the storylines that they want to tell and the objects that they wanted filmed in 3-D and added to the online museum. Following on three regional 3D photogrammetry capacity building workshops held in association with The UWI at Cave Hill, Mona and St. Augustine, a 3-D photogrammetry workshop was held during the conference to guide participants in the necessary skills and techniques.

Another major highlight of the conference was the opening of the traveling visual arts exhibition entitled: Arrivants: Art and Migration in the Anglophone Caribbean World. Hosted by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, the exhibition took its title and its focus on “the journey” from poet Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants trilogy. According to organisers, the exhibition explores the diasporic nature of Caribbean society as documented and interrogated through its artistic production. The focus is on the Anglophone Caribbean at different points in time from the mid twentieth century to the present day and on the cultural impact of migration from and to the United Kingdom, and by extension Europe and to North America, as well as the movements within the Caribbean and Central American region.

An anthology of presentations made at the conference is a major expected outcome from the event. On behalf of the  International Museum Conference/MAC Local Organising Committee (LOC), Cummins thanked The UWI, especially the Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, The Cave Hill Campus Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eudine Barriteau and Varsha Persaud and colleagues in the UWI’s Office of Research, as well as her Barbados Museum and Historical Society colleagues Natalie MacGuire, Kaye Hall and Kevin Farmer, for their support and commitment to the conference.

For the 2019 conference, the MAC will return to its early roots, to Martinique where the second meeting of was held. The November 12 to 16 event will explore the theme: “The Museum: Identity Marker and Actor of the Economic and Cultural Development of the Caribbean” and participants will take stock of thirty years of the association working for the enhancement of museums and their common history in a dynamic of openness and development. Continue to check the MAC website Conferences page by clicking here to keep updated on this conference.