Elaine Addington (Glasgow Museums) Back in Armenia for Museums Week

Written by Elaine Addington, Open Museum Curator, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

I was very honoured to be invited back to Yerevan in November 2018, having previously been there with ITP in 2016 for the Learning, Engagement and Museums workshop. The invite came via ICOM and The Association Of Museum Workers and Friends.

In celebration of ICOM Armenia’s 10th anniversary and AMWF’s 15th anniversary, a conference and educational workshop was organised. I was invited to co-lead the workshop with Natalya Tolstaya and speak at the conference.


The workshop took place over four days, proceeded by a press call for the event at the National Gallery of Armenia. This was interesting for Hayk Mkrtchyan (ITP 2014, Senior Fellow 2017) and I, given that he had picked me up from the airport in the early hours of that morning, and neither of us had managed to sleep!

This press call was followed the next day by the four-day workshop. Day one was led by Natalya, a digital engagement expert who is based in Moscow. My sessions were on the following three days. I focused on themes that the Open Museum is currently working on, such as homelessness, hidden histories, health and working with older people. We also explored ways to work and display objects outside our museum venues and – most importantly – talked about partnership, collaboration and representation. Each presentation was followed by group work, and really interesting discussions were had during feedback. The participants worked really hard, even forgoing their weekend! At the end of the four days certificates were awarded and pledges were made to take ideas forward. It will be interesting to see what new programmes and ideas emerge from these intensive four days!


The following day saw the launch of  the two-day conference Rethinking Cultural Spaces, focusing specifically on bringing museums and tourism in Armenia together, to increase the reach of the sector. It also featured a wonderful Museum Expo, showcasing some of the great museums that Armenia has to offer.

For the conference the ICOM Armenia steering group did brilliantly in pulling together a really varied group of speakers, not only from museums and heritage but from tourism, fundraising and social media. The stand-out papers for me were presented by Cecelia Martin from Lava Lab, who focused on the digital experience of museums and how our organisations can be more meaningful to the ‘selfie generation’ and Freddy Adelman from Smithsonian Associates who spoke about fundraising and the particular process  that the Smithsonian has.

All of the papers provided the basis for incredibly interesting conversations that were continued the following day during round table discussions.

It was brilliant to be back in Yerevan. Not only did I get a chance to catch up with Armenian colleagues and be brought up to speed with their programmes and the ideas that had come to fruition in the two years since I was last there, but I also met many new  colleagues, including those from ICOM Iran and Georgia, which will hopefully stem to partnership ideas with Glasgow Museums.