November 4-7, 2019
This new, four-day seminar was organized by Fulbright Germany and the Leibniz Association, in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It brought together 26 German and American curators, educators, and other professionals working in museums or similar institutions, such as memorial sites. Eight participants were representatives of Leibniz Research Museums. Gathering at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., participants explored museums as spaces for social discourse and learning – and, by extension, as institutions which are vital for democracies. The Seminar was part of the Year of German-American Friendship.
As unique sites of public discourse, museums provide remarkable insight into contemporary issues - how these issues relate to the past and how they may impact the future. As spaces for dialogue, inquiry, and engagement, museums provide platforms for learning, questioning, and discovering. By studying which content museums decide to display and in which context, we can learn a lot about how a community’s complex history and present is interpreted. Moreover, the work of museum curators and educators has exceptional reach across audiences with diverse socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. With their exhibitions and programs, the museums of the organizing partners reach approximately 36 million visitors each year.
This seminar aimed to deepen international understanding, while simultaneously supporting hands-on professional development, exchange of best practices, and lasting professional connections between an influential group of peers in the museum field.
Using a variety of interactive formats such as presentations, site visits, panel discussions with expert practitioners, case studies, and peer learning sessions, participants engaged in the following topics:
1. Exhibitions and public programming - mirrors of social and scientific inquiry
2. Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion
3. Collaboration across disciplines and sectors
4. National mission in a globalized world