CFP: From Linguistic Innovation to Cultural Transformation: Unpacking the Implications of ICOM’s New Museum Definition in Italy and France” (Bologna, 18-19 Mar 2024)

Call for Abstracts
Workshop, University of Bologna, Bologna 18-19 March 2024
Deadline: 19 Nov 2023

Cultural heritage has been continuously impacted by innovations, particularly in recent
years, as a result of the digital revolution, the NFT market, and the necessary adaptations
made by most cultural institutions during the pandemic, art museums included. While the
majority of these innovations are attributed to sources external to the art world, prompting
the art world to adapt, there are also instances where innovation originates from within the
art world itself.

A significant instance of such innovation is the modification of the museum’s definition, which
was introduced by ICOM in August 2022. The new definition incorporates a series of
keywords, including “sustainability,” “diversity,” and “ethically,” which have the potential to
shape the way museums are managed and have implications for their economic, art
historical, and sociological aspects.

Both Italy and France have a rich cultural heritage, consisting of artistic, archeological,
ethnological, natural and scientific collections, archeological and historical sites, music, etc.
One of the main institutions who takes care of part of this heritage in both countries is the
museum. In fact, museums are widely spread throughout these two countries. Italy counts
3,338 museums, galleries and collections (ISTAT data 2021), with over 50% of these
managed by public entities/authorities. In 2022, France had 1,216 museums that had the
“Musée de France” appellation, meaning that they are recognized by the State and can
benefit from its assistance. Among these, 82% are controlled by a local authority or a group
of local authorities, 13% by associations or foundations, and 5% directly by the State. These
few stylized facts highlight how these 2 countries present very important museum networks
and are hence likely to be importantly conditioned by the change in the ICOM definition.
As part of the Cassini Senior Project supported by the Institut Français, this workshop seeks
to delve into the realm of innovation within the cultural heritage sector. Specifically, our focus
lies in the analysis of how Italian and French museums are embracing or planning to
embrace the three new concepts recently incorporated into the ICOM’s definition. Our
emphasis is primarily directed towards art museums.

Art museums represent just one facet of the diverse museum landscape that stands to be
influenced by these terminological and broader innovative shifts. This workshop marks the
start of a wider investigation, set to encompass the entire spectrum of museum typologies,
including History, Science, Natural History, Ethnography or Anthropology, Archaeology, and
Specialized Museums. Our intention is to comprehensively explore how these institutions are
responding to the changing landscape, thereby setting the stage for deeper insights into the
intersection of economics and art history within this evolving context.
Points that could be considered and debated during the workshop are along the lines of what

1) Environmental conservation (reduction of energy consumption, promotion of
renewable energy sources, minimization of waste, etc.)
2) Social responsibility (engagement with local communities and addressing of social
issues through art)
3) Conservation and preservation (preservation and conservation of artworks and
cultural heritage ensuring their longevity and safeguarding them for future
4) Education and engagement (raising awareness and educating visitors about
environmental and social issues through art exhibitions, programs, and initiatives).

1) Accessibility (prioritize accessibility by ensuring that the museum’s spaces,
exhibitions, and programs are accessible to people of all abilities, including
individuals with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities)
2) Representation (striving for diverse representation across exhibitions, collections,
and programming, including artists from different cultural backgrounds, perspectives,
genders, and identities)
3) Multilingualism (providing multilingual materials, labels, and interpretation services
to cater to visitors who speak different languages)
4) Sensory experiences (create inclusive sensory experiences by incorporating
elements that engage multiple senses, such as tactile exhibitions, audio descriptions,
or immersive installations)

1) Restitution (actively pursuing and supporting efforts to return artworks that were
acquired through unethical means, such as colonial plunder, forced sales, in general,
looted art or illegal actions, to their rightful owners or communities of origin)
2) Cultural sensitivity (respecting and representing diverse cultures with sensitivity
and integrity, taking into account the cultural and historical contexts of artworks and
avoiding misappropriation or misrepresentation)
3) Code of ethics (adopt and adhere to a code of ethics that outlines guidelines and
principles for responsible collecting, exhibition, conservation, and engagement
practices, ensuring ethical decision-making across all aspects of museum
4) Authenticity (rigorous authentication processes to ensure the authenticity of
artworks in their collections, preventing the circulation of forgeries or counterfeit

Contributions by economics, art history, and sociology scholars dedicated to each of the
keywords are invited, while keynote speeches will be held by art museum directors, funders,
and officers, to foster the interaction between academia and art museums.
The interdisciplinary approach of this workshop will lay the groundwork for an in-depth
discussion on the implications of this terminological innovation and permit to examine the
potential shared strategies that Italian and French art museums may adopt.

Keynote speakers
– James M. Bradburne – Director of the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, IT
– Emmanuelle Polack – Direction du Soutien aux collections, Musée du Louvre, Paris,
– Emanuela Totaro – General secretary of the Kainòn Foundation, Rome, IT
– Julie Verlaine – Professor of contemporary history, Université de Tours, Tours, FR,
and Musée des féminismes, Angers, FR

Paper submission and deadlines
We welcome submissions of rigorous quantitative, theoretical, and/or qualitative studies
contributing to the topic illustrated above. We particularly appreciate submissions from
different fields of the humanities and the social sciences as well as interdisciplinary

Please submit your abstract of 300 words (in English, French, or Italian) with a short
biography to before November 19 2023 for a
20-minute long presentation.

Please note that the presentations will be conducted exclusively in English, regardless of the
language used in the submitted abstract (discussion afterward can be held in any of the
three languages).

Notification of acceptance will be given by mid-December 2023.

The workshop is jointly organized by Francesco Angelini (Università di Bologna), Alice
Ensabella (Université Grenoble Alpes), and Marilena Vecco (Burgundy Business School),
thanks to the Cassini Senior Grant 2023 from the Institut Français and the contribution of
Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA), University of Bologna, and
Université Grenoble Alpes.