ICOM Congress Brought More Than 3000 Participants to The PCC

ICOM Congress Brought More Than 3000 Participants to The PCC

One of the most prestigious and biggest events of this year at the PCC was the General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which takes place every three years and is a huge event for every country and city.

This his year was the 26th ICOM General Conference, but it  was the first in the Czech Republic. "Although we had  the desire for a long time," says Martina Lehmannová,  Executive Director of the Czech ICOM Committee. The first time a candidacy was submitted was in 1962. Six years later the Czech Republic came very close to winning the host city, but  in the end Cologne and Munich won. "At least a post-conference  excursion from there was possible, from 14-17 August 1968 Who knows what would have happened if it had been held a week later! And 21 August was fateful for us too, the date fell on  the first day of this year's session and we symbolically included a panel on the protection of cultural heritage in war-tested Ukraine  in the programme," explains Martina Lehmannová.

Martina Lehmannová communicated the idea of organizing the ICOM conference in Prague to her colleagues in 2012. 5 years  later, preparations for the candidacy began, but in 2018 Alexandria won by a few votes. Even though Alexandria eventually  withdrew, the Czech side was already fully focused on hosting  in 2022. "But we had no idea what awaited us - the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation...", says Martina  Lehmannová. Organising such a big event in the current times is not  easy. "We have already done a lot of work in 2017 and 2018 when we were preparing our candidacy. The main work came  in 2019. The hardest year was 2020, when we didn't know how the COVID-19 pandemic would develop and we thought about  possible options, and one of them was a full online format. But  the option of cancelling the congress was never on the table. In fact, the museums reacted to the adverse situation with lightning speed and brought many of their activities into the virtual world. So it was never a question of if, but how," she explains.
In the end, more than 3 000 people came to Prague and hundreds more participated online. The total number of delegates reached 3705. "It's a great number," says Martina Lehmann. In 2016 3,500 delegates came to the ICOM General Conference in Milan in 2019, 4,500 delegates came to Kyoto, but the organizers sold 1,800 one-day passes, which were not available in Prague due to the hybrid format. "Colleagues who attended in person and those online praised the organisation and were very pleased with the friendly atmosphere and liked the graphics. We received hundreds of enthusiastic responses," adds Martina Lehmannová.
The PCC was a clear choice to hold the Congress at. Although even during ICOM delegates appreciated the pros such as the proximity to the centre, excellent transport accessibility, the number of hotels within walking distance, etc., museum staff in this case admired above all the visual experience that makes the PCC stand out above most of the world's congress centers. "The north wall, wide open towards the unique panorama of Prague, is a work of art in itself, a kind of living veduta (large scale painting) of the city. The interiors of the building are decorated with a number of arts and crafts objects, starting with tapestries, glass or metal sculptures, art prototypes. Many of the halls have retained their original wall coverings or furnishings The real gems of interior design of the late 1970s and 1980s are the small southern lounges. The rooms of the congress centre were decorated in a uniform style, for which there is a very nice Czech” term 'Gesamtkunstwerk' conference appreciated this," says Martina Lehmannová.
ICOM Congress in numbers

  • 3705 delegates
  • 3050 on-site
  • 655 on-line
  • 124 countries
  • 238 panels, workshops and excursions
  • More than 700 lectures
The theme of the conference was The Power of Museums. According to Martina Lehmannová, this year's ICOM Prague 2022 will go down in museum history as the congress where, after many years of unsuccessful attempts, a consensus was found on a new ICOM definition of a museum that reflects the values that museums present in the 21st century. In addition to the traditional functions of collecting, caring for and exhibiting tangible and intangible heritage, these include openness, accessibility, inclusion, promoting a sustainable planet, ethical and professional conduct, collaboration with communities and knowledge sharing.


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