NEMO's 26th Annual Conference "Museums out of the Box! The crossover impact of museums" gathered 184 delegates from 39 countries in the 2018 European Capital of Culture Valletta, Malta, from 15-18 November 2018 to discuss the cross sectoral impact of museums. The conference papers have been collected in a publication, which was released in May 2019.

Museums from all over Europe and beyond were invited to the newly inaugurated art museum MUZA to investigate the different forms of values that are created when museums cooperate with other sectors, such as the learning, the social or the creative sector. Museums and their missions, responsibilities, and modes of engagement within their communities are in a constant process of transformation in response to social and economic development at local, national, and global levels.

The conference affirmed that museums create different kinds of values to other sectors such as the social, tourism and health sector, just to name a few. Museums should be fully acknowledged and given increased support to encourage those collaborations across sectors, and supports the concept of mainstreaming heritage becoming a reality across EU, national, local and regional levels.

Day 1

Following a reception the previous day at the newly inaugurated museum MUZA, the conference delegates were welcomed back to the same venue for the first full conference day. David Vuillaume, NEMO Chair, Sandro Debono, MUZA, Anton Refalo, Chairman, Heritage Malta, and Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Malta, welcomed the participants to the conference, MUZA, Valletta and Malta.

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, and Tere Badia, Secretary General, Culture Action Europe, were later welcomed to the stage to discuss impact of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 so far and the long-lasting imprint of the initiative. The year will soon reach its official end but the Commissioner stressed that the legacy of the year will live on and that culture is not only a community activity, but that culture also has an impact on social and economic sectors as well as an important international dimension.

Marie Briguglio, Department of Economics, University of Malta, delivered a keynote focusing on Museums, Markets and Eudaimonia. Margherita Sani, Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Region Emilia-Romagna, moderated the keynote. Marie discussed how well-being can be measured and how museums can be part of generating well-being. She ensured that well-being can be measured but also hinted that one might have to rethink how these findings are presented to policy makers and politicians to really catch their attention. A cartoon might catch their attention more than a long report for instance.

After an energizing coffee break, it was time for a panel on Museums and Society, Youth and Social Integration, moderated by Henrik Zipsane, Jamtli Museum. Sandro Debono, Annemies Broekgaarden, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Marina Tsekou, National Museum of Contemporary Art all offered their opinions and experience on the subject.

The second panel of the day was moderated by Raivis Simansons, Creative Museum Think Tank, and focused on Museums and Cities, Creative Industries and Science. The following experts had been invited to join the panel:Jill Cousins, Hunt Museum, Ragnar Siil, Creativity Lab, Mikko Myllykoski, Heureka Science Centre Helsinki.

The first conference day was finished off with workshops. The participants were able to pick between four different workshops or to join a guided tour of St John’s Co-Cathedral. A brief overview of the workshops can be seen below and more information about the workshop content can be found here.

  • Workshop 1 - Working with Intangible Cultural Heritage in Museums, delivered by Sophie Elpersand Kia Tsakiridis
  • Workshop 2 - The Future Museums' Labour Market and new Challenges we have to face, delivered by Gea Wold and Bente Bergmans
  • Workshop 3 - Planning a National Museum Policy: where does the museum sector head, delivered by Kalle Kallio
  • Workshop 4 - Where History meets Philosophy: a toolkit for museum educators, delivered by Jenny Anghelikie Papasotiriou

At 19:00 all delegates met again at MUZA to travel by boat to the conference dinner. At the Martime Museum, nine Maltese dishes recreated from the 18th century were served. The dinner concept has been created by curators who have found recipes or depictions of food in archives, books, kitchen inventories and artefacts within the collections of Heritage Malta museums.

Day 2

The second day was kicked off with an interview between Lynn Scarff, Director, National Museum of Ireland and Kimmo Levä, Secretary General, Finnish Museums Association. Lynn got to answer questions about museum strategy, branding and future developments for the museum sector. Amongst other, Lynn stressed that museums in the future should be creative platforms rather than content providers.

Later, the conference delegates split up in small groups to attend one of three NEMO Working Group meetings or to join a guided tour of MUZA. An overview of the Working Group Meetings can be seen below and detailed information can be found here.

  • Working Group LEM - The Learning Museum: Activities and Programmes for Children and Young People in European Museums. Led by Margherita Sani
  • Working Group Museums and Creative Industries, led by Ineta Zelca Simansone, Creative Museum Think Tank. Ragnar Siil, Creativity Lab, Chris Bailey, Freelance Museums and Creative Industries Expert, and Jill Cousins, Hunt Museum, discussed the topic “Museums and Creative Industries – An unlikely partnership?” in a panel discussion.
  • Working Group Advocacy and PA,led by Lodewijk Kuiper, Netherlands Museums Association, who presented two Advocacy Cases; MUZA Museum and the UK Museums Association at the meeting.
  • Working Group Digitalisation, led by Aber Leguit, Netherlands Museums Association, called to a first meeting of the newly founded Working Group.

After lunch the conference participants gathered again for the European Project Slam of EYCH 2018. Five projects awarded with the European Year of Cultural Heritage label 2018 had been invited to each give an 8 minute presentation at the slam, which was moderated by Rebecca Thonander, NEMO. The following projects were presented:

  • Art United at Pukkelpop, Peter Aerts
  • Creative Makers: kids´ fablabs for letterpress & printing inspired by tinkering and making, Anna Codazzi
  • Regional Restoration Camps, Elena Mamani
  • Specially unknown – European oral history project, Dietmar Osses
  • Museums and Makers Inspiring Each Other, Jenny Siung

More information about each project can be accessed here.

Next on the agenda was NEMO’s Annual General Meeting, open for NEMO members only. The past year was summarized and the members voted in favour of updating the statues of NEMO. A new member of the NEMO board was also elected. Sergio Servellón (Chairman, ICOM Belgium Flanders) was elected to take the seat of Nils M. Jensen, Director, Danish Museums Association. It was also announced that NEMO’s 27th Annual Conference will be held at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu from 7-10 November 2019.

The Children in Museums Award Ceremony marked the end of the second conference day. Hands on! International Association of Children in Museums and the European Museum Academy organized the award ceremony within the framework of NEMO’s conference “Museums out of the Box! The crossover impact of museums”. The Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery Singapore received the 2018 award and a check of 5000 Euro. The Museum of Puppetry, Ljubljana, Slovenia received a Special Commendation.

Day 3

On the last day, the participants had the possibility to join a cultural sightseeing tour of heritage sites around Malta, which was highly by several participants.


This event was awarded with the European Year of Cultural Heritage Label, showing that the event supports the role of Europe’s cultural heritage and its importance to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Learn more about obtaining the label from NEMO here.