Under Pressure. Museums in Times of Xenophobia and Climate Emergency

28 July 2021

View of MS2 - Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz. Photo by HaWa

CIMAM 2021 Annual Conference will be held on November 5-7, 2021, hosted as initially planned by the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz and the NOMUS New Art Museum/ Branch of the National Museum in Gdansk, Poland.


Day 1: Conflicts, Crises, and the Politics of Growth
Day 2: Museums as Spaces for Recognizing Differences
Day 3: New Perspectives on Climate and Commonality

While the pandemic appears to be the most pressing challenge today, it is merely a vector of more global political and environmental changes. The conference will address the roles of artists and museums in this dramatically changing global situation. How can artists be agents of change, and museums be places to test proposals for the communities of the future? Can museums guide processes of political and/or technological solutions?

During the three days of discussions, the conference will focus on the two interconnected current crises of Xenophobia and Climate Change, and the sometimes hidden or unexplored connections between the two.

Keynote speakers and relevant case-study presentations will show how institutions, artists, and thinkers working together can provide practical laboratories concerning these emerging issues and offer methodological tools to combat discriminatory and nationalistic tendencies in an increasingly divisive and divided world.

Main topics of discussion

  • 1st Day: Conflicts, Crises, and the Politics of Growth

As a preview of the subjects to be debated, the first day of the conference will examine closely how xenophobia and the climate emergency are intertwined, their commonalities, and the most recent institutional and curatorial responses to them. If the Anthropocene has been born out of a capitalist acceleration that is reaching its peak, what will happen next, and how can museums further the process of rethinking their subjectivities?

  • 2nd Day: Museums as Spaces for Recognizing Differences

The second day of the conference will shed light on the possible role of museums as spaces for recognizing differences and learning to respect them. Museums today face fierce xenophobic reactions and emotions fostered for political and economic reasons. Is there a way of addressing these reactions at the level of institutional programming? How can an art institution evolve to create platforms for a better understanding of difference?

  • 3rd Day: New Perspectives on Climate and Commonality

The aim of the third day of the conference, to be held in Gdansk, is to go beyond disciplinary thinking in addressing the responsibility of museums in times of climate emergency, tackling not only the natural environment but also the atmospheres of the commonplace. Being aware that our material and social environments are not separate entities, it is essential to look towards unique research and practice fields that represent transdisciplinary approaches toward the environments we inhabit. How can we be more attentive, responsible, and engaged in the process of making museums more sustainable in the broadest sense?

This year's conference will offer a hybrid format with the programs adapted to physical and virtual scenarios, to facilitate access and attendance for all CIMAM audiences.

This CIMAM Annual Conference has been thought and organized by members of the Board of CIMAM and both hosting museums:

From the CIMAM Board:

  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak (Chair), Independent Art Critic, Curator, Ph.D, Warsaw.
  • Saskia Bos Independent Curator and Critic, Amsterdam.
  • Victoria Noorthoorn, Director, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.
  • Agustín Pérez-Rubio, Independent Curator
  • Madrid.
  • Eugene Tan, Director, National Gallery Singapore and The Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.

From the hosting museums in Lodz and Gdansk:

  • Daniel Muzyczuk, Head of Modern Art Department, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.
  • Jaroslaw Suchan, Director, Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, Lodz.
  • Aneta Szylak, Curator, NOMUS New Art Museum/ Branch of the National Museum, Gdansk.