2015 ICMM Congress

Abstracts of papers presented in Hong Kong

Abstracts of the papers presented at ICMM's first Asian Congress have been assembled and are available to download in English and Chinese. If you would like to have further details on a particular paper, please contact the speaker direct and request a copy of the full paper. Click here to download the abstracts.

Photographs from the Hong Kong Congress

A selection of photographs prepared by the Congress hosts, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, is available to view through a Dropbox link. Click here to go to the Dropbox. You don't need a password to view.

17th ICMM Congress General Assembly

At each ICMM Congress, the members of ICMM meet in general assembly to conduct the business of the organisation. In addition to reports from the President and Secretary General, elections are held for Executive Council.

Click here to read the reports to the General Assembly of outgoing President, Dr Kevin Fewster, from Royal Museums Greenwich and from Amsterdam-based Secretary General, Henk Dessens, who sadly retired in Hong Kong as a result of ill health.

The General Assembly confirmed the Executive Council's nomination of Stephen C White, President and CEO of Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut, USA as the new President of ICMM. Steve's first President's letter can be read by clicking here

After the General Assembly meeting, the Executive Council met and the office bearers were appointed from the elected Council members. Invitations were also made for co-opted positions on the Council to assist with specific tasks. The full list of ICMM Executive Council members for 2015-2017 can be viewed by clicking here

Reflections on the academic programme - Hong Kong Congress 2015

Nigel Rigby, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, chaired the Programme Committee for the 2015 ICMM Congress. He reflects on the academic programme:

In close to five decades of the ICMM’s history, the 2015 Hong Kong Congress was the first time an ICMM Congress had been held in Asia, with one of its main objectives being to raise the organisation’s profile and encourage new membership in the region.

I have always believed that conferences are not really remembered for the high quality of the speakers, the challenging cut and thrust of museological debates, or the seamless programming, but for the catering. The Congress’s Academic Programme Committee – Christopher Dobbs, Marika Hedin, Peter Neill, Zefeng You and myself - could do little about the food apart from eat it (and what heavenly food it was!) but we hoped to provide a programme that could meet the extraordinarily high standard set in Cascais, Portugal, two years before.

ICMM is an extremely broad church. It includes local and regional museums, historic ships and university, national, service and archaeological museums. The ICMM’s members include museums based around single objects, those that can count their collections in millions, and with everything in between. They can have a staff of one or many hundreds. They include museums that have been established since the first half of the twentieth century, ones that opened last year, and those that are still be being built. It is the extraordinary breadth of ICMM’s membership and the depth of its interests that makes it the vibrant, growing and forward-looking organization it is. However, programming a conference that caters intellectually for such an audience can be a daunting challenge.

Nigel Rigby continues his reflections on the 2015 Congress academic programme:

We decided after electronically shuffling a few ideas around that the notion of ‘connections’ would be an appropriate theme, one that could be interpreted in a number of ways across our membership, yet still have some intellectual coherence. We underlined this broad approach in the call for papers, which gave some deliberately wide-ranging suggestions – connections between East and West, digital connections, or connecting with audiences, for example - and encouraged proposals that would, if anything, broaden them even more. The keynote and plenary speakers were more closely themed, as one would expect. The response to the call for papers, although perhaps not quick enough to save me a few sleepless nights, was eventually tremendous. We had papers from all over the world, with a particularly strong response from Hong Kong and mainland China (which delighted us), from speakers at very different points in their careers and seemingly in the full gamut of museum jobs.

After an excellent, thoughtful keynote from Lincoln Paine, which took as its subject the fundamental issue of the museum’s historical role, the congress’s speakers addressed a rich variety of topics; too many to list here. I was struck though by the number of papers looking at historical, trading and scientific relations between East and the West, which to me demonstrated the degree to which our histories have been intertwined, and how important it is for congresses of this sort that work together across continents. The sessions entitled ‘Museums in transition’ pointed towards the incredible energy there is in our sector, suggesting the value of sharing experiences and learning from each other. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our speakers who engaged, informed and entertained, us for the week. There were, sadly, a few speakers who were finally unable to find the necessary funding to come, but this is a perennial problem in this day and age and hopefully we’ll be able to see them at the next Congress in Chile.

Finally, I would like to express the Programme Committee’s appreciation of and gratitude to Richard Wesley, Polly Wan, Candy Wong and all the staff at Hong Kong Maritime Museum and Swire Travel, who did such a superb job organising the conference on the ground. It was faultless. It was a great pleasure to work with them so closely over the months before the Congress. Almost inevitably, I suppose, there were one or two frissons along the way, generally when I got my electronic lists mixed up, but we resolved them easily and amicably.

Nigel Rigby, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Reflections on the Hong Kong Congress planning & organisation from Richard Wesley

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum Ltd (hereafter called “HKMM”) accepted financial and administrative responsibility for hosting the 2015 ICMM conference. A date in November 2015 was chosen to ensure the climate was benign. The Macau Maritime Museum agreed to host a day tour in their city and Swire Travel was retained as our official conference organiser.

A conference committee was established.

Richard Wesley HKMM Museum Director Chair and Fundraising

Polly Wan HKMM Head of Marking Marketing and Coordination with Swire Travel

Candy Wong HKMM Director’s Personal Assistant Administrative support and liaison with Donors

Jessica Chan Macau Maritime Museum Director Macau arrangements

Eva Lai Swire Travel Senior Manager Project Management

Grace Chan Swire Travel Business Development Manager Liaison with product suppliers & administration

An agreement was reached with the ICMM Academic Committee and the President of ICMM, Dr. Kevin Fewster and Chair of the Academic Committee, Dr. Nigel Rigby regarding the general structure of the conference and its location at HKMM, despite limitations associated with the building.

A target of approximately 120 delegates and partners was set for the conference, with approximately 10% of delegates to be attracted from the Peoples Republic of China.

Following the preparation of a preliminary budget it was clear that to achieve a high standard, sponsorship was required to support money raised from conference fees which were set at a relatively modest level to reflect the location of Hong Kong and local costs. It was also recognized that assistance would need to be made available for some delegates from Chinese museums. This later issue was eventually resolved through the provision of assistance from the Richard Foster Bursaries provided by ICMM.

Eight Hong Kong Shipping companies generously agreed to support the conference, underwriting one third of eventual costs. These companies were the TCC Group, Wah Kwong, China Merchants Charitable Foundation, Grand Seatrade Shipping, Island Navigation Corporation, Nan Fung Shipping Ltd, Oak Maritime (Hong Kong) Limited, and OOCL. The total raised through sponsorship was HK$320,000 with an estimated further HK$200,000 in kind. Provided by eleven Hong Kong companies and government agencies, including Swire Travel.

A significant administrative decision taken was to maximize efficiency by utlising the resources of Swire Travel to establish and manage a conference website with complete “backend” capacity to handle registration and hotel bookings. In house museum staff resources and professional conference specialists were also combined during the actual conference itself with particular respect to translation and ground transport.

Considerable administrative effort was committed to marketing the conference through a series of email based updates and registration reminders. Although essentially designed to promote attendance, the regular emailing of some five hundred contacts achieved the secondary purpose of promoting the work of ICMM. Mr. Zefeng You, an ICMM Academic Committee Member was of great assistance by directly contacting staff at Chinese Maritime Museums and encouraging their involvement in the conference which proved very successful, with fourteen delegates eventually participating.

A secondary but important project was to provide a partners program and several post-conference tour options. In both cases the objective was to create opportunities for delegates and their partners to participate in all aspects of the conference in Hong Kong / Macau and to provide a chance to visit the Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum in Guangdong Province to the south and China Maritime Museum to the north. Both trips were well subscribed.

In conclusion the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and its supporting organisations were proud to host the 17th Congress of Maritime Museums and the first in Asia.

Post-Congress Tour Report - Shanghai

The Director of the Chilean National Maritime Museum, Cristian del Real, and Richard Wesley, Director of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum have contributed a report on the post-Congress tour to Shanghai which included visits to the Shanghai Maritime Museum and the CY Tung Maritime Museum. Read the report by clicking here.