Looking back on the 2017 Conference


A letter from President Jeorg Ehtreiber

Dear participants, speakers, members and staff of the 11th Hands On! Conference,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you!

Thank you for being part of this vibrant community, thank you for enriching the past conference with your participation, your knowledge, your professional experience and your dedication to the cause of children in museums.

Thank you for sharing your ideas and your projects, thank you for providing us with inspiring new ideas to help us create even better programmes and exhibitions.

Many thanks to our main host and organizer Tereza Dobiasova, her associates and her team for planning this outstanding conference. I highly appreciate your enthusiasm and all your efforts for making this project happen.

And, above all, Thank you all for making time in your busy schedules to join us in the Czech Republic!

I would also like to use this opportunity to recapitulate my very first conference as Hands On! President. The very special format of a traveling conference not only enabled us to visit three different cities, but also provided us with valuable insights on the children-related work of various cultural institutions in the Czech Republic.

The conference kicked off in Pilsen, a vibrant university town and European Capital of Culture of 2015. There we experienced remarkable keynotes and sessions addressing the opportunities, risks, and impacts of (digital) technology on children. Our hosts of the day were three very special venues: Techmania Science Center, West Bohemian Museum, and DEPO2015. As the grand finale of this very busy, yet inspiring day, the Children in Museums Award 2017 was awarded to Tekniska Museet Stockholm. Congratulations again on this well-deserved win! Additionally, I also would like to congratulate all candidates, who made it onto the shortlist for their excellent programmes!

The second conference day took us to the charming city of Pisek. In Sladonva -Gallery to play, we discovered striking theories, strategies, projects, and of course professionals dedicated to the art of storytelling, and had the chance to participate in the galleries latest innovative project: The multimedia Art Performance Lionhearts.

After waking up in beautiful Prague, the last day of the 11th Hands On! Conference was full of pleasant surprises. The whole Hands On! board is still thrilled by the great number of members, and particularly non-members who joined us for the general assembly. It is very important for us to see how many people are interested in our work and that the value of our network is widely recognized in- and outside the community. Many thanks to every single one of you who participated! We were able to gather a lot of new inputs and food for further thought on this occasion.

The sessions of this day were all dedicated to social aspects of cultural and creative activities for children and to the envisioning of future responsibilities and roles for museums as places of informal learning. The importance and relevance of this topic was reinforced by the overwhelming presence and intensity of Ai Wei Wei’s artwork “law of the journey”. I believe I was not the only one left speechless by the sheer strength of the scene.

To unwind after this powerful day, St. Agnes Convent with its intriguing atmosphere was just the right place.

I hope you enjoyed the conference as much as I did!

To help us to meet your needs and expectations even better in the future, I invite you to share your thoughts about the conference with us. We really appreciate your feedback!

Furthermore, I would like to invite you to our Hands On! Pre-conference “Safety vs. Free play” at the Ecsite Conference 2018 in Geneva. We will provide you with more details about the programme in some weeks’ time.

It was a pleasure meeting you all at the conference, thank you for being an essential part of our community,

Kind regards,

Jörg Ehtreiber

(HO! president and director of Frida & fred children’s museum Graz)

A few words from the host

“It has been a huge pleasure, although also quite a challenge, to host so many inspiring people in places I work at. And it was really interesting for me to see in the evaluation, that those parts of the program, which were closest to my heart, were ranked highest. To me, this is an early Christmas gift to learn again, as it reminds me once again, that it is worth taking the risk of following the path, one truly believes in.

Hence, I would like to wish all of you, to allow yourselves, the work you are doing to be daring and touching, to share what you are and what you believe – and ultimately, to allow yourselves to go to the very edge of the possible, looking for new ways, new possibilities, and sometimes even new markets.

Tereza Dobiasova

(HO! Board, conference host 2017 and directress of Sladovna Pisek)