The 2019 WORKLAB conference will take place in the wonderful city of Copenhagen and with the Workers Museum as our venue. The dates are Monday 11 – Wednesday 13 November 2019. The formal programme of the conference will take place on the Tuesday and Wednesday, while Monday is reserved for a WORKLAB board meeting and evening welcome reception for those arriving slightly early.
The theme of the conference is:
Radical museums – labour history museums as social agents
Labour history museums, and museums engaging with the technological and social aspects of industrial society in general, deal with some of the most pressing issues of our time: How will technological innovation affect working conditions and work-life balance in the future? What qualifications will be required of young people entering the labour market? How can industrial production and economic growth be made socially and environmentally sustainable? And how does growing inequality and migration of workers on a global scale both challenge and call upon the values and communities established by labour organisations?
At the same time, labour history museums, many of which were established in the 1980s as radical institutions promoting a particular view of struggles for welfare and equality, are faced with the challenge that their thematic focus and basic narratives no longer connects strongly with younger generations. If museums aim to be a relevant in terms of the concerns and questions of people today, do we then need to find new, radical ways of talking about and displaying the past?
The conference will discuss these issues on the basis of concrete examples of how labour history museums or related institutions engage actively in connecting past, present and future and, as part of that process, rethinks their radicalism. And it will address the issue of how such a role and process for museums may also affect relationships with communities and stakeholders and work to place museums in more direct contact with debates that often have a strong political aspect.
Suggestions for presentations will must be supplied by 15 May 2019, but a separate Call for Papers will be sent in early 2019 along with registration details.
The conference will be open to all, so please distribute this message to institutions or individuals who may be interested. We hope to bring together a dynamic group of people – and not least a lot of WORKLAB members 😊 – for a couple of very interesting days!
If you have any questions at this stage, please write director to the Workers’ Museum Søren Bak-Jensen sbj<at>@arbejdermuseet.dk.