2015 ICMM Congress

Abstracts of papers presented in Hong Kong

Abstracts of the papers presented at ICMM's first Asian Congress have been assembled and are available to download in English and Chinese. If you would like to have further details on a particular paper, please contact the speaker direct and request a copy of the full paper. Click here to download the abstracts.

Photographs from the Hong Kong Congress

A selection of photographs prepared by the Congress hosts, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, is available to view through a Dropbox link. Click here to go to the Dropbox. You don't need a password to view.

17th ICMM Congress General Assembly

At each ICMM Congress, the members of ICMM meet in general assembly to conduct the business of the organisation. In addition to reports from the President and Secretary General, elections are held for Executive Council.

Click here to read the reports to the General Assembly of outgoing President, Dr Kevin Fewster, from Royal Museums Greenwich and from Amsterdam-based Secretary General, Henk Dessens, who sadly retired in Hong Kong as a result of ill health. 

The General Assembly confirmed the Executive Council's nomination of Stephen C White, President and CEO of Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut, USA as the new President of ICMM. Steve's first President's letter can be read by clicking here

After the General Assembly meeting, the Executive Council met and the office bearers were appointed from the elected Council members. Invitations were also made for co-opted positions on the Council to assist with specific tasks. The full list of ICMM Executive Council members for 2015-2017 can be viewed by clicking here

Reflections on the academic programme - Hong Kong Congress 2015

Nigel Rigby, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, chaired the Programme Committee for the 2015 ICMM Congress. He reflects on the academic programme:

In close to five decades of the ICMM’s history, the 2015 Hong Kong Congress was the first time an ICMM Congress had been held in Asia, with one of its main objectives being to raise the organisation’s profile and encourage new membership in the region.  

I have always believed that conferences are not really remembered for the high quality of the speakers, the challenging cut and thrust of museological debates, or the seamless programming, but for the catering.  The Congress’s Academic Programme Committee – Christopher Dobbs, Marika Hedin, Peter Neill, Zefeng You and myself - could do little about the food apart from eat it (and what heavenly food it was!) but we hoped to provide a programme that could meet the extraordinarily high standard set in Cascais, Portugal, two years before.

ICMM is an extremely broad church.  It includes local and regional museums, historic ships and university, national, service and archaeological museums.  The ICMM’s members include museums based around single objects, those that can count their collections in millions, and with everything in between.  They can have a staff of one or many hundreds.  They include museums that have been established since the first half of the twentieth century, ones that opened last year, and those that are still be being built.  It is the extraordinary breadth of ICMM’s membership and the depth of its interests that makes it the vibrant, growing and forward-looking organization it is.  However, programming a conference that caters intellectually for such an audience can be a daunting challenge.

Read more: 2015 ICMM Congress

2013 ICMM Congress

Some Reflections on the Conference - Cascais, Portugal, 8-15 September 2013

By Marika Hedin, Director of the Vasa Museum and Chair of the programme committee

The 2013 ICMM Conference in Cascais is now in the past and it is time to take stock of what became an intensive week of talks, panels and excursions. As the Chair of the programme committee, I may be biased – alright, I am biased – but I thought this was a very good conference. And not just because of the wonderful weather and beautiful surroundings. Everyone who participated came with ideas, enthusiasm and good stories to share.

When we started planning this conference, we wanted to take the best parts of the previous ICMM congresses and condense them. To my mind, what makes ICMM so strong is the fact that we are an organisation of peers. We share interests and expericences, we tackle similar problems, even though among our members we have a wide range of museums represented.

The theme of the congress was made up of two parts: on the one hand, discussing how to ’celebrate’ maritime heritage, on the other hand, thinking of ways to make maritime heritage ’relevant’. This doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing: relevancy can be about problematising and questioning, whereas celebration can be about preaching to the already converted. So when we structured the programme, we wanted to capture some of the core areas for our museums, and ask questions about celebrating, while making relevant. This was the background behind, for example, the plenary session about Navy history and the thematic session and workshop on heritage vessels.

Putting it together

The abstracts we recieved took up the challenge very well. The speakers interpreted the duality of the congress theme creatively. In the programme committee, we then placed all speakers in sessions with a deliberately conversational structure. The idea was to guard the idea of a meeting of peers, and make possible a fruitful meeting of minds.

In addition to this, I think we got lucky with our keynotes. Jorge Roque de Pinho d’Almeida started us off with a discussion on the Portugese maritime strategy that connects the past to the future, and João Paulo Oliveira e Costa concluded the week by analyzing Portugal’s strong maritime heritage and how this influences society today. The other keynotes touched upon various aspects of the museum sector: Sebastian Chan on how to think digitally about collections, Helen Weinstein on how to tell engaging stories and Uwe Brückner on exhibition design.

But of course, the congress would not have been a success if the logistics hadn’t worked perfectly, and they really did. Transport and meals were all perfectly organised. And of course, with the Portugese Navy as generous co-hosts of the congress, we were treated to some spectacular evening events and made many new friends. I unfortunately had to pass on the concluding excursions, but I know that they were rewarding to the participants.

The future?

Some lessons can be learned from this conference as well, of course. We will send out a questionnaire to all participants shortly, and the input we get will be important for the Hong Kong and Macau museums when they are planning the next leg of the ICMM touring roadshow. All in all, the 2013 congress will be quite an act to follow. But I feel confident that Richard Wesley and his team are up for this challenge!


The 2013 Congress Programme can be viewed here


A selection of pictures from Cascais

Mayor opening Congress

2011 ICMM Congress

The 2011 Congress of the ICMM was held October 9-15 2011 in Washington, DC, and Newport News, Virginia, USA.


After more than a decade, the ICMM returned to North America.  Connecting with the Future seemed to be an especially appropriate choice of theme, given the venues in the 'new world' and given the challenges and opportunities facing our museums in the new millennium.

Jointly hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History – the only truly national history museum in America – and the Mariners’ Museum, the Congress provided magnificent venues for sessions, receptions, tours and conversations.

The Congress began in Washington, DC with a Sunday reception on the national mall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.   After an optional day or two of visits to other great museums along the mall, our colleagues were welcomed by Paula Johnson and by Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. The centerpiece of the evening was the Smithsonian’s major maritime exhibition, On the Water: Stories from Maritime America.  The sumptuous dinner was the perfect antidote to jetlag and a welcome chance to reconnect with our colleagues old.

Read more: 2011 ICMM Congress

2009 ICMM Congress

ICMM Biennial Congress 2009
was held in Esbjerg, Denmark
5-9 October 2009

Understanding Change – Coping with Uncertainty

Congress Presentations

Ms Carina Christensen and Morten Hahn-Pedersen (ICMM President)
Opening Speeches

Ms Carina Christensen
Danish Minister of Culture

Erik Clausen 
Chairman of the Fisheries and Maritime Museum, Esbjerg

Read Speeches

Read more: 2009 ICMM Congress