WORLD BATTLEFIELD MUSEUMS FORUM 2022. Gdansk, 12–13 October 2022
Over the decades, with the development of museology, the role of museums in society has changed. The changes taking place in the cultural sector have led to evolution of museum spaces. From traditional showcase displays museums are shifting towards modern, interactive, cultural and educational centres. But despite the gradual evolution in the way museums function and communicate with their audiences, the core mission of each museum remains the same.
Museums all over the world fill the role of institutional custodians of world cultural heritage. As guardians of history, science and culture, they not only spread knowledge that is passed on to future generations, but they also commemorate the accomplishments of our ancestors and cherish the events and achievements of past eras that have shaped the modern world. Because knowledge of history helps to understand the present, museums are, without doubt, a key link in the processes of education and of building historical and cultural awareness. The success of the first World Battlefield Museums Forum (WBMF) 2018 edition prompted us to continue the international exchange of ideas on historic battlefields that was started then. In 2020, both 2018 WBMF partners and new institutions were invited, whose input was expected to broaden the narrative to include the experiences of museums located in the remotest corners of the world. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented foreign visitors from coming to Gdansk. The idea of the forum, however, was carried on in online projects – www.wbmf.online was launched to promote battlefieldsrelated content.
After two years of the new pandemic reality, hopes for encounters in the real world returned, and with them, the plans to organise the second edition of WBMF, again bringing together the world’s battlefield museums. Today, battlefield museums present exhibitions to disseminate knowledge of historic battles; the care for these battlefield memorial sites is no less important. Often located where battles that changed the fate of the world were fought decades and centuries ago, battlefield museums, silent witnesses to past events, carry a message to future generations. Battlefield museums must provide a symbolic bridge of remembrance between the past and the present; they must also reconcile the historic narrative with the commercial aspect of operating in the capacity of a tourist site, and they must welcome visitors with diverse needs. A large number of visitors will certainly help the effective implementation of the core mission inherent in the activities of any museum – the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. This mission must go in accordance with the requirements of the modern world and technological development; there are, no doubt, serious challenges facing cultural institutions nowadays. It is these challenges that the speakers and the invited experts will be discussing at the World Battlefield Museums Forum 2022. The conference is scheduled for 12-13 October 2022 and twenty institutions from almost all continents have confirmed their participation. Battlefield museums directors and museum professionals will share their experiences and expertise. They will include representatives from Darwin Military Museum, Narvik War Museum, Naval Museum in Peru, or Winter War Museum in Finland. Conference guests will be able to listen to lectures in two languages, Polish and English, both in the conference room of Museum of WWII in Gdansk and via the museum’s website in a special live-stream dedicated to the WBMF event.