Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM)

International Conference, 28-30 November 2017-11-20

Rosario, Argentina

Museums, Democracy and Human Rights

Challenges and dilemmas in storytelling

“The most important issue in the world is that of human rights; and there is no better way to discuss and advance human rights than through international dialogue. Very often it is museums, the homes of memory, where these discussions take place, where the public expects to find intelligence and independent thought.”

David Fleming, Founding President of FIHRM.

Our Museum was proud to present a paper at the 8th annual FIHRM conference, hosted by the Museo Internacional para la Democracia in Rosario, Argentina.

The presentation focussed on the rigorous process of testing and building the concept of a social change Museum from the inside out, creating an architecture driven by strong values, consultation and community outreach that will in the long term manifest in physical architecture, rather than the other way around.

We introduced an international audience to Perth, our geographic relevance in the strategic framework of the Indian Ocean Rim, and the opportunity to create a Museum space that respects and reflects the diversity and multiplicity of racial and religious narratives in our city, beginning with the fundamentally important story of our First Peoples.

We invited our FIHRM colleagues to visit Perth for our inaugural symposium in February 2019, and to experience first hand some of the challenges and opportunities that we want to support and engage with as a Museum, such as the unfolding story of Rottnest Island as it confronts its history as the largest deaths in custody site in Australia.

The presentation was well received by the international audience, and our team left with much positive endorsement of our concept and new relationships of support from several like museums around the world, including the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

The Federation of Human Rights is a network of 138 members in 37 countries that enables museums that deal with sensitive and controversial subjects such as transatlantic slavery, the Holocaust and human rights to work together and share new thinking and initiatives in a supportive environment.

As an organisation, FIHRM believes that museums should have the confidence to be brave in their story telling and deliver public value to the whole of society, and stimulates new conversations about how museums can be spaces where conversations about controversial, difficult and emotional topics can safely take place.

Our delegation joined around 120 FIHRM members at the conference, representing museums across central and Latin America, Spain, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Norway and Taiwan.