IMD Symposium 2021

International Museum Day (IMD) Symposium 2021

The Future of Museums: Recover and Re-imagine

Day 1: 20 May 2021, Thursday, 9am to 3.30 pm

Day 2: 21 May 2021, Friday, 930am to 1145am

Online platform: Zoom

Download the digital booklet here.

About International Museum Day

The theme for International Museum Day 2021 invites museum professionals to imagine and share new practices in the (co-)creation of value, new business models for cultural institutions and innovative solutions for the social, economic, and environmental challenges of the present. This symposium will explore some of the recovery efforts that museums adopted in 2020 and early 2021 to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also explore learning points that museums can take into the future as they engage with their audiences.

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Symposium Programme - Day 1

Symposium Programme - Day 2

Symposium Programme - Day 1



0900 – 0930


0935 – 0945

Opening Remarks by Ms Chang Hwee Nee, CE/NHB & chair/ICOM Singapore

0945- 0950

IMD opening remarks by President of ICOM, Alberto Garlandini

0950 – 1150

Panel 1

Post-Pandemic Business Models & Recovery Efforts by Museums


The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has severely impacted museums in Singapore as well as around the world. This panel will explore some of the pandemics’ effects on the museum sector and how museums, as exemplified by the Museum Roundtable in Singapore and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manila, have sought to cope with the situation. It also seeks to discuss and explore some of the new capabilities and skill sets needed by the sector as it confronts the reality of a Post-COVID world.



  1. Mr Gerald Wee, Director, International and Museum Relations, National Heritage Board

    Synopsis: The museum sector in Singapore continues to be severely impacted by COVID-19. This presentation will look at the current situation and explore the pandemic’s effect on the museum landscape in Singapore, using the Museum Roundtable as a proxy for the sector as a whole. It will also provide an overview of the NHB’s efforts to assist the museum sector through this trying time, and shares case studies on how some museums have sought to adopt new roles and deploy new and innovative approaches to service delivery in order to remain relevant to their audiences.


  2. Dr Gog Soon Joo, Chief Futurist, Researcher, and Data Scientist, SkillsFuture

    Synopsis: A key component of resilience and business transformation is the development of manpower to manage and overcome these changes. In this sharing from Skillsfuture Singapore, insights into how the adoption of a futurist mindset can help the cultural sector emerge stronger in planning for future business models.


  3. Ms Florentina (Tina) Colayco, President, Metropolitan Museum of Manila

    Synopsis: As with many museums across the world, The Metropolitan Museum of Manila closed its doors during the peak of the pandemic, and remains closed as of April 2021. During this time, the museum had been busy rallying communities, and launched a series of digital tours and co-organised the Manila Museums Summit to recharge the community through this crisis. This sharing summarises the work the museum has done, and what the museum envisions for its future to remain relevant to her visitors.


Moderator: Mr Thomas Wai, Chief People Officer, National Gallery Singapore

1200 – 1430



1430 – 1630

Panel 2

Reimagining Future Audiences: a new value proposition for museums


The COVID 19 pandemic has accelerated the digital push and contributed to changes in the way that museums have had to engage their audiences. In this panel, the symposium will explore the ways that museum-based learning has changed post-pandemic, with museums deploying new and re-imagined strategies to maintain their appeal to various audience groups.



  1. Ms Chung May Khuen, Director, National Museum Singapore, National Heritage Board 

    Synopsis: A museum’s core is in its narratives told through research of its collections, and why these artefacts tell important stories about our civilisations. In NMS’s latest exhibitions, Home Truly, and Picturing the Pandemic, “collections” took on a contemporary turn, and were presented as points of dialogue, reflection, and interaction, transforming the museum beyond an institution and into a space for civic engagement.


  2. Mr Aaron Seeto, Director, Museum MACAN Indonesia

    Synopsis: As a young institution that only opened its doors in November 2017, the COVID-19 Pandemic posed many challenges very early into Museum MACAN’s operations. Director of the museum, Aaron Seeto will discuss how the museum’s original study of visitors’ needs has shifted in the past year, and what implications this may have on the museum into the new future.


  3. Dr Scott Hollier, CEO, Centre for Accessibility Australia

    Synopsis: Digital transformation had enabled many museums to share their programmes with a wider and more international audiences, which was the silver lining of 2020. However, amidst the digital push, these programmes have also created gaps for individuals with disabilities with access to these digital forms. In this presentation, Dr Hollier takes a critical lens on how organisations can be more mindful in digital and web-based programming to consider the accessibility of these programmes.


  4. Ms Elaine Lim, Master Specialist, Humanities Branch, Ministry of Education

    Synopsis: Museum-based Learning where students experience the museum as an educational space has been integrated in the design of the humanities and visual arts syllabuses. In light of COVID-19, field-based learning experiences for students were disrupted as learning moved to the digital space. This presentation discusses the fundamental principles and considerations that continue to be relevant in the design of museum programmes arising from COVID-19 and some possible shifts in future engagement strategies.


Moderator: Ms Cheryl Koh, Director, Heritage Institutions, National Heritage Board


End of Day 1


Symposium Programme - Day 2



0900 – 0915

Special Address by Ms Neo Xiaoyun

Deputy Manager, International Policy, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

0920 – 1130

Panel 3

Conversations about Climate and Sustainability in Museums


As museums explore contemporary approaches to audience engagement and collecting, they have also sought to re-imagine their roles in promoting awareness and civic action around pressing global issues. This panel seeks to spark conversations about the roles that museums can play in educating and engaging audiences on the key issues of climate change and environmental sustainability.



  1. Honor Harger, Director, ArtScience Museum

    Synopsis: Climate change and sustainability have been key themes of ArtScience Museum’s programming over the past decade, with talks, exhibitions, film screenings and community actions taking place every year. In this presentation, executive director of the museum, Honor Harger, will share the museum’s focus on public outreach and education surround climate change, and other environmental issues, and suggest ways that museums might contribute to this conversation.


  2. Lim Tit Meng, CEO, Science Centre Singapore

    Synopsis: The Science Centre Singapore is an educational space that partners schools to spark the curiosity of students and families in the study of science. As part of the centre’s outreach efforts, education on climate change and sustainability is integrated into the galleries, and through the various youth empowerment programmes. CEO of the Science Centre will share the programmes that the centre had put in place to educate students on the climate problem.


  3. Kelvin Wong, Director & Co-founder, Terra SG

    Synopsis: TerraSG works with corporates, schools, and museums on educational programmes on sustainability and climate change, and through these engagements, different strategies are adopted to spread the importance of building a more sustainable future. This presentation discusses how education on the topic across audiences, and how museums can adopt them in or beyond their museum space.


  4. Edmund Chen, Founder, My Little Red Dot, Asiatainment Pte Ltd

    Synopsis: My Little Coral Garden is a project by local artiste Edmund Chen, which highlights the detrimental effects our consumption patterns and waste disposal methods have caused harm to the coral reefs around Singapore. Through storytelling and reflections, Chen invites pre-schoolers and families to pen their pledges on how they can be more mindful of our actions on the environment. Chen will share how he was inspired to conceptualise this artwork and story, and how children can be engaged to be more civic-minded.


Moderator: Ms Leong Cheng Yee, Director, Programmes and Festivals, NParks

1130 – 1145 am

Closing remarks


End of Day 2