Hands On! has organized conferences since 1996. Here are a few examples!

The next conference will take place October 25-27! Read more HERE


Online, Vienna 2021 The 13th HO! conference was hosted by the FRida & FreD Children’s museum in Graz and the ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna together with HO!. During the pandemic, but also in times of facing climate change, resource scarcity, and unstable political conditions, this edition was dedicated solely to the topic of the future, on thinking about new things and developing new formats, structures, and forms of cooperation. 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? 

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Frankfurt 2019 The 12th edition of our biennial conference took us to Europe’s oldest existing children’s museum, Junges Museum Frankfurt.The conference focused on museums’ roles as places of social inclusion. Participants from 28 counries, discussed how to cater to specific needs of diverse audiences,  how children’s museums use collections to impart knowledge on cultural heritage and explored innovative educational formats in connection with digital learning. As part of our 21st Century Children Project, co-funded by the EU Creative Europe programme, we added a full day of training sessions dedicated to the unique role children-dedicated museum education plays in 21st century education. Videos of all panel sessions are available for free here.
Practical Information

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Czech Republic 2017  For this conference edition we offered a unique travelling conference in three beautiful and historical cities: Pilsen, Pisek and Prague. Together with their partners, our host Sladovna -The Playful Gallery lead us to explore the latest developments of the field of children in museums . Within the industrial setting of Pilsen, participants from 34 countries discussed the impact of digital media and technology on children.  Amidst the dreamy environment of Sladovna, the second conference day was dedicated to art, storytelling and creative play. As a grand final, Ai Weiwei’s touching Law of the journey installation beautifully introduced the theme of the last conference day: museums and galleries as places of social engagement.
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Graz 2016 On 8 June 2016 Hands On! offered an exciting pre-conference workshop at 2016 Ecsite conference “Colours of cooperation”. In cooperation with the hosts, FRida & freD Children’s Museum, the Universalmuseum Joanneum and the association ScienceCentre-Network, who organized a vibrant participatory opening, in which school classes, kindergarten groups, universities, companies and conference participants built an incredibly long chain-reacting-machine, we were able to offer our members an event in-between the HO! conferences. Around 50 Participants from all over the World e.g. India, Israel, Australia and Dubai, took part in the HO! pre-conference.
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Amsterdam 2015 The 10th edition of the Hands On! Conference took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This was the largest conference in the history of our organisation, with 400 participants from over 38 countries in attendance. Together, we explored issues relating to “touch” in places of informal learning. We thank main organizers of the conference: the Rijksmuseum and the Jewish Cultural Quarter, as well as the programme committee, which included Science Center NEMO, the National Maritime Museum and the Netherlands Museum Association.
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Stockholm 2013 From 7-11 October 2013 members from all over the world met in Stockholm, Sweden, for the 9th Hands On! Conference. Its topic: Explore! Explore with Technology, Explore with Creative Learning and Explore the World of Exhibitions.

Keynote speakers were Professor Anne Bamford (UK), internationally awarded researcher in arts education, emerging literacies and visual communication, and Tilde Björfors (SWE), founder and artistic director of Circus Cirkör and the world’s only professor in contemporary circus. The conference opening was honoured by Her Majesty Queen Silvia.
Participants were also invited on study visits at The Stockholm Transport Museum, Postmuseum, Skansen and Lill-Skansen and The Vasa Museum. View conference videos.

Ljubljana 2011 The theme of the 8th Hands On! Conference was Identity, Cultural Diversity and Heritage. Participants discussed the role of children’s museums in an age of rapid change.
The conference was held from 11-15 October 2011 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Keynote speakers were Ruud Lubbers, who spoke about ‘Inspiration for Global Governance – The role of children’s museums’, and Paul Scheffer, who spoke about ‘The open society and its immigrants.’
In small sessions, our members discussed the following question: How can we encourage children and young people to explore, learn and discover cultural diversity and heritage in a safe and stimulating environment?

Paris 2009 From 3-6 November 2009 the 7th Hands On! Conference was held in Paris, France. Its theme was High tech! High touch!
Leigh-Anne Stradeski, president of Hands On! at the time, introduced this conference as follows: High tech high touch wil explore whether dahering to principles of tactile, low-tech learning through play is advisable or even achievable when today’s children are born into a world of increasingly sophisticated technology. Opening speaker: Jorge Wagensberg, director of Environment and Science, CosmoCaixa, Barcelona. He spoke about ‘Looking for the joy of learning.’