What to expect at IATM’s “Museums in Danger”

The last article of this series provides you with an outlook at IATM’s 2024 annual conference “Museums in Danger”. In addition to serving as a sneak preview, it highlights the strong and inspiring IATM network.

A look back

Our first article discussed the increasing cyber threats museums face globally. Highlighting recent attacks on institutions like the British Library, Gallery Systems, and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. These cyberattacks have disrupted services, compromised sensitive data, and led to significant operational challenges. Additionally, our selected examples illustrate the financial and operational risks posed by ransomware and other cyber threats. The article underscores the need for improved cybersecurity measures and collaboration among museums for safeguarding digital assets and ensuring continued public access and research.

We won’t target the matter directly at “Museums in Danger”. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to welcoming Peter Giere from the Museum of Natural History Berlin on a closely related subject.

What to expect between 8 and 11 September 2024

Resilience, alliances, and tools

Peter Giere, Curator Embryologic Collections & Head of the Competence Centre Collections, will talk about the development, growth and value of alliances to protect cultural and scientific heritage in Germany. Members of these networks aim for several things. They support each other through tangible help such as providing shelter to objects or protective materials. While also engaging in the larger scope: Helpful resources to develop emergency plans, get security measures updated or lobby for additional funding.

All our conference speakers share the sentiment that museums must proactively prepare for disasters. Mainly, by forming alliances and utilizing specialized tools to safeguard their collections. The third article in our series emphasizes the importance of strong networks. Additionally, it introduces detailed guidelines like the SiLK tool and the ABC Risk Management System for assessing vulnerabilities and prioritizing actions to mitigate risks.
By leveraging these tools and collaborations, museums can protect their collections, and enhance their preparedness and resilience against potential disasters.

The value of such alliances will also be highlighted through the example of the Finnish Association of Traffic Museums. Project Manager Heini Sorakivi guides us through the many projects and tools ten museums of transport and communication in Finland collaborate on since 2004. They range from a shared webshop to peer training and support in times of crisis. The latter leading us to the second article of our series.

Protecting collections

Where should protective efforts to collections start? With our second article in the series, we tried to approach the matter from different view points:

Museum collections are increasingly under attack from theft, war, natural disasters, and human misconduct. High-profile thefts and the destruction of cultural heritage sites in conflict zones illustrate the severity of these threats. War has led to significant losses in cultural heritage, with systematic plundering and destruction documented in Syria and Ukraine. Technological advancements and international collaborations are helping to document and preserve at-risk artifacts. The article underscores the importance of both immediate protective measures and long-term strategies for safeguarding cultural heritage.

Right along with this take on collection security, we are looking forward to several of our speakers on these subjects:

Matias Laitinen will talk about the protection and safeguarding of large objects in places that are either close to military conflict or of high interest based on their geographic position. As Curator at the Finnish Aviation Museum, he is more than familiar with the difficulties of handling large objects; as well as being located close to important infrastructure, namely an airport.

The dangers of war are part of his daily business: Yuri Savchuk, Director General of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. Despite the constant threat, the museum has taken to two of its core tasks. Documenting and exhibiting the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. This led to a number of traveling exhibitions. And they are developing a new permanent exhibition. It aims to cover the First and Second World War as well as the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Challenges call for creativity

Challenging times call for creative solutions. We are excited to hear stories of ingenuity from London, Finland, Hungary and the Baltic Sea.

Richard Zima of the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport takes us through the creative response of a museum to limited financial resources during its re-development process. Being stuck between old and new, but definitely not in a loop!

Financial and funding restrictions meeting sustainability efforts multiplied by a limited amount of time and personal resources – sounds familiar to you? Matt Brosnan will take you through London Transport Museum’s journey towards a temporary exhibition that ticked many boxes. Highlighting LTM’s collections, international collaboration, investment in long-term gallery improvements, and working with different funders. 

Further on, Tuomas Värjö of the Forum Marine Maritime Center in Turku, Finland presents responses and solutions for museums in crisis around the Baltic Sea.

Museums and the public – a relationship of manifold

When it comes to challenging times, it’s not only about safeguarding cultural heritage. By engaging in history, questions of identity, tradition or shared perspectives are re-evaluated and reviewed repeatedly. We are curious for the case of the Finnish Lenin Museum introduced by its director Kalle Kallio. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the museum saw itself amidst questions, demands, support and criticism of the public. This was taken to heart. The museum closes in November 2024 and will re-open in the future as Nootti – the Museum of Finnish-Russian Relations. You will have the chance to visit the museum in its current state and learn more about the future plans.

Where will the conference take us? Learn more about the locations in this video!

Moreover, we will look at the role of museums in light of the ongoing climate crisis. Mobilia – Finnish Museum of Car and Road has taken to this on different levels. With “The Climate Effects of Having a Hobby” Anni Antila, Development Manager at Mobilia, highlights our role and how museums can contribute to a better understanding of what we are up against and able to do individually. While Elina Toukola provides a larger scale with a focus on the role and possibilities of museums in her talk “Sustainability Efforts at Mobilia”.

We are excited to welcome you to Finland this year for IATM’s 47th conference “Museums in Danger”. It is a great opportunity to meet in person within this network, get to know the Finnish Museum landscape and collectively grow our resilience.

More details on the programme and the registration are available on our conference page.