Hands On! Conference 2021: 9-12 November @ Online, Vienna

Welcome to our first online conference!

Hands On! is an international network of museum professionals. We aim to make all museums and science centers meaningful places for children, to professionalize the (children’s) museum field, and to share our expertise. Every two years, we organize an international conference at which we explore the latest developments in the field of children’s education in museums, children’s museums, and science centers. We aim to learn from and be inspired by keynote speakers, workshops, and exclusive museum visits. Don’t miss this chance to meet participants from over 30 nations and exchange ideas with professionals and experts from all over the world! 

The 13th HO! conference will be hosted by the FRida & FreD Children’s museum in Graz and the ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna together with HO!. The conference will be exclusively held online, due to specific circumstances. However, HO! members and interested parties, from all areas of varied museums work, will have the continued possibility, as in a previous manner, to exchange ideas.

Theme: Hands On! into the Future?

We are currently living in interesting times. The time of the pandemic is a time of crisis for us, which entails restrictions, insecurity, helplessness, and many questions. Even though the pandemic is ubiquitous, we cannot forget the challenges we were previously facing such as climate change, resource scarcity, unstable political conditions, etc. Especially in times, where there is so much in transition, we should be taking the chance to think new things and to develop new formats, structures, and cooperation. 

As part of our strategic Creative Europe EU-Project 21st Century Children, together with organizations from all over the world, we have formulated a vision of the future for our sector over the past year. This year’s conference is dedicated solely to the topic of the future. What is the role of the children in museums sector in the future? Which methods and topics will be tackled? What does this change mean for our organization HOI?  These are the topics we would like to discuss together with the conference participants during a new workshop format, dedicated keynotes, panel sessions. Thanks to the generous funding of the European Union, the festive Children in Museums Award Ceremony & winner announcement will be broadcasted online world-wide.

Experience  four exciting days including 3-day workshop program, inspiring keynote sessions, discussion groups, panels, amazing HO! Circus and the Children in Museums Award Ceremony 2021. This year we are offering our participants a unique opportunity. In our parallel working groups and over three days, participants can work in their group on our conference focus topics and create new ideas together. We are daring to try a new way of experiencing social togetherness online.

Focus Topics

How do we work?

What is the right tool for our work in the future and what is the right method? Is it the analog approach, which was always important to us? Is it possible for us to remain true to our Hands On! principle, even though in these times distance and digitalization are paramount? Do we relocate our program, in tune with the zeitgeist, into a digital space? Or do we consciously do the opposite? Do we want to offer more outdoor programs in new locations and so reach new target groups? Which types of communication are thinkable and which work methods are possible? What does our audience expect from us? How do we continue to be a place for children – offline/online – or both?

What are our topics?

Children’s museums and cultural institutions with offers for children are places of knowledge sharing. But it is not just that. Which topics do we deal with in respect of our future? Have science topics become more important than ever due to the major challenges of climate change and resource scarcity? Is cultural education our defined goal, in order to facilitate intercultural togetherness? Should the focus be on historical topics, because only someone who knows the past can judge the present? Or is it more important than ever to be places that deal with social issues and teach human skills?

Who do we work with and for whom do we work?

Diversity is becoming more visible and to what extent is it portrayed in our institutions? Who are we? And who are the others? How diverse are our teams concerning sex/gender, age, nationality, education, language, skin color, religion, and political views? Is inclusion experienced in our institutions and to what extent is that visible to our audience? Who even is our audience of the future and how diverse is it? How do we succeed in reaching people, who have until now not observed our work, because they have never felt addressed?

Conference Hosts

The 13th conference will take place online and is hosted by FRida & freD and Zoom Children’s Museums in cooperation with local partners.

is a place for all children. With their programs, They focus on teaching childrenthe world’s diversity and help them with a better understanding of its complexities. Along with their contents, FRida & freD focuses on making sure that the young        visitors develop into confidenandresponsible citizens who interact carefully with their fellow human beings and their environment. This is a place where children and their parents feel at home, a place that excites their senses and inspires their  fantasies, and a place that touches their hearts and encourages their creativity.

“Hands on, minds on, hearts on!” At ZOOM Children’s Museum Vienna based in the Area of MQ Vienna,children are welcome to ask questions, to touch and to feel, to examine and to play to their hearts’ desire. At ZOOM, children explore the world with all their senses, on their own or in small teams. In their own individual way, they zoom in on objects and situations and, by doing so, find out about themselves and discover their own skills, abilities and creativity. In contrast to museums for adults, ZOOM invites children to touch and try out exhibits and, through the sense of touch, take possession of the world. Play comes first at ZOOM and makes learning an individual process enhancing children’s creativity.