15th Conference of the Estonian Maritime Museum

Community Involvement in Theme Museums

2−3 September 2015


Today’s museums must be open, communicate with the guests, and the community, including ordinary people, is often involved in the content creation. The creation and existence of theme museums is aimed at work in the interests of a certain circle of enthusiasts and researchers. For that reason, the conference will focus on implementing the concept of a ‘modern open museum that involves the community’ in theme museums.



How does the community of a museum concentrating on a certain theme differ from the community of history museums? Is it easier or more difficult to engage the community of experts and enthusiasts in museum work? How to define the community of a theme museum? Together with domestic and foreign museum professionals we will search for answers to those questions and many more, concerning involvement and participation.

The two-day international 15th conference of the Estonian Maritime Museum will concentrate on the practices of ‘an open museum that involves the community’— a key concept in new museology — through the prism of a theme museum.

The speakers


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Community Involvement in Theme Museums

2nd and 3rd September 2015

Venue: Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Narva mnt 95, Tallinn)


2nd September 2015

10.00-10.30 Registration
10.30-10.35 Opening

I session: Community – what is it?

10.35-10.55 Museum community – what is it? (Leontine Meijer van Mensch, Museum Europäischer Kulturen)
10.55-11.15 OUR museum – has the museum one or several communities? (Sheila Watson PhD, University of Leicester, UK)
11.15-11.35 Role of Community in Creating Process of Museum (Neidi Ulst, Estonian Road Museum)
11.35-11.55 Discussion: Has a theme museum smaller opportunities in involvement than a history museum? (moderator: Priit Lätti, Estonian Maritime Museum)

12.00-13.30 Lunch

II session: Participation in Museum Educational Work

13.35-13.55 Involving education – learning instead of teaching. What will happen when life comes into the museum? (Triin Siiner, Estonian History Museum)

Workshop: Youth Involvement – Key for the Future Museum? (moderators Cathy Pelgrims and Liene Conard, Museum an de Stroom)

 Set art free, and will the rest follow? Facilitation as key to successful user engagement (Merete Sanderhoff, Denmark)

14.15-15:35 Coffee break

15.35-15.55 Exhibition as the Enviroment for Learning (Helene Urva, Estonian Maritime Museum)
15.55-16.15 Discussion: What is the learning community? (moderator: Leontine Meijer van Mensch, Museum Europäischer Kulturen)



17.00-18.45 Excursion in Seaplane Harbour 

19.00-21.00 Sightseeing Tour on Tallinn Bay on passenger ship Katharina 

3rd September 2015

10.00-10.30 Registration

III session: Role of Community in Creating Process of Museums

10.35-10.55 Role of Community in the Beginning of Estonian Maritime Museum (Liisi Rannast-Kask, Estonian Maritime Museum)
10.55-11.15 How have the museum collections been developed? (Piret Õunapuu PhD, Estonian National Museum)
11.15-11.35 The ties that bind? Niche topics in crowdsourcing (Mia Ridge, UK)
11.35-11.55 Discussion: Contemporary collecting principles – are the principles helping participation or excluding it? (moderator: Mirjam Rääbis, Estonian Ministry of Culture)

12.00-13.30 Lunch

IV session: Participating in the Community into Research Work

13.35.-13.55 Crowdsourcing – role of community in research field (Liisi Taimre, The National Archives of Estonia)

13.35-14.15 Workshop: Minority Involvement in Museums (moderator Annemarie de Wildt, Amsterdam Museum)               Home assignment

13.55-14.15 How has the development of museums altered the way in which exhibitions should interact with visitors? (Pille Runnel, Estonian National Museum)
14.15-14.35 Maritime Museums Bring Together Volunteers and Professionals. Projects for Collecting the Traditions of Ship Engine Manufacturing in Turku and Shipbuilding in Rauma (Anna Meronen, FIN Forum Marinum)
14.35-14.55 Discussion: How to involve the community in the research field? (moderator: Mia Ridge, UK)





Leontine Meijer-van Mensch (1972)

Graduate of the University of Amsterdam (history and Jewish studies, MA, 1999. PhD. candidate Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder. Lecturer and researcher of heritage theory and professional ethics at the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam (2006-2014). Since 2014 Deputy Director of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (Museum of European Cultures) in Berlin.

She belongs to international museum organizations, for example chairperson of COMCOL, the ICOM International Committee for Collecting. Publications on professional development, museum education and collection development.

Sheila Watson PhD

Deputy Head of the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK. Formerly Museum Director, Great Yarmouth Museums, Norfolk (1995 – 2003) where she developed a new museum Time and Tide; The Museum of Great Yarmouth Life, working with local community groups and individuals for over 7 years. Her research and practice are interwoven and many of her publications explore challenges facing museums worldwide today. These include Watson, S (ed) (2007) Museums and their Communities, (London: Routledge), Watson, S (2016 ) ‘Death from the skies.’ Photographs in museums of the aerial bombing of civilians during World War Two' in E. and T. Stylianou (eds) Museums and Photography: Displaying Death: London and New York: Routledge, Watson, S. (in press 2015) 'Emotions in the history museum' in A. Witcomb, K. Message (eds) Museum Theory: an expanded field, Oxford, Blackwell; and Watson S. (2014) 'Communities and museums - equal partners?' in R. Silverman (ed) Museum as Process, London: Routledge. She is currently co-editing a new volume for Routledge on new writings in Heritage.

Triin Siiner (1971)

Graduate of the University of Tallinn (adult education, MA). Certified practitioner in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy.

Museum educator at Estonian History Museum, educator, supervisior and coach; director and actor of Estonian Playback Theatre. Psychodrama and Playback Theatre creates a ritual space where any story – however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden or difficult – might be told and played. And where each person`s uniqueness is honoured and affirmed while at the same time building and strengthening our connections to each other as a community of people. As a psychodramatist and adult educator my main interest is how people make choices in different situations – in history, in different groups. How is it possible create learning environment – give the participants an opportunity to find their individual stories, acting them out and sharing feelings and experiences.

Merete Sanderhoff (1978)

Curator of digital museum practice at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, working to provide free access to, and encourage re-use of, the museum's digitised collections. She is a frequent speaker and moderator at international digital heritage conferences. A conference organiser herself, she has set the agenda for openness in the Danish GLAM community at the international Sharing is Caring seminars in Copenhagen. She has published substantial research in the area of digital museum practice, among others the anthology Sharing is Caring. Openness and sharing in the cultural heritage sector (2014). Merete serves on the European Association Management Board, the OpenGLAM Advisory Board, and the ARTstor Museum Advisory Counsel.

Helene Urva (1987)

Helene Urva started as a consultant for educational programs in the autumn of 2013 and continued as the Curator of Education in August 2014. Currently the main activities of the Curator of Education are management of educational programs for school, training of museum guides, planning and organising seminars, developing educational centre for the Estonian Maritime Museum.

She gained her Bachelor’s degree at Tartu University (environmental Technology) and Master’s Degree cum laude at Tallinn University (Marine Biology).

Helene Urva has worked as a science teacher for 4 years and finished the Teach for Estonia program (analogue of Teach for America in Estonia) and worked as the head of training in the Teach for Estonia organisation. Recently she was elected to the board of Teach for Estonia and she also continues as a volunteer in the alumni movement of Teach for Estonia.

Helene Urva is also author of many educational materials, for example she has been in close cooperation with Tallinn Water Company “Tallinna Vesi” and issued a series of teaching materials on the topic of water. She has also been in the Working Group of the Estonian Ministry of the Environment to analyse current educational materials under environmental topics and edited materials for schools in one of the main educational publishers of Estonia (Avita).

Liisi Rannast-Kask (1982)

Graduate of Tallinn University (history, MA, 2008). PhD student there since 2009. Teacher of history at Kuristiku upper secondary school in Tallinn (2005−2008). Teacher of history at Ilmatsalu and Sillaotsa basic schools (2008−2010). Teacher of history at Kuristiku upper secondary school (2010−2013). Researcher and collection holder at the Estonian Maritime Museum since 2013.

Mia Ridge PhD

PhD in digital humanities (Department of History, Open University, UK) focusses on historians and scholarly crowdsourcing. Mia has published and presented widely on her key areas of interest including: user experience design, human-computer interaction, open cultural data, audience engagement and participation in the cultural heritage sector and digital history. Her edited volume, ‘Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage’ (Ashgate) was published in October 2014. Mia has post-graduate qualifications in software development (RMIT University, Melbourne, 2001) and an MSc in Human-Centred Systems (City University, London, 2011). She is Chair of the Museums Computer Group (MCG) and a member of the Executive Council of the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH). Mia is also known for her work on crowdsourcing metadata games for museums.

Liisi Taimre (1985)

She graduated from the University of Tartu in 2010 (History, MA). Her first job was as a researcher in Harju County Museum in 2007. During the next 7 years she has been involved in various projects focusing on local communities in different museums of Estonia. Since 2014 she has been working as marketing manager of the National Archives of Estonia.

Pille Runnel PhD

(PhD, media and communication studies) is a research director of the Estonian National Museum and director of the World Film Festival. Her main research areas are museology and museum communication, media anthropology, visual anthropology and media audience studies. She has participated in several international research and cooperation projects, incl EU Kids Online and COST network Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies. Editor of the books The Digital Turn: User's Practices and Cultural Transformations (Peter Lang, 2013) and Democratising the Museum, Reflections on Participatory Technologies (Peter Lang, 2014).

Anna Meronen (1980)

Graduate of the University of Turku (European Ethnology, MA, 2006). Educational curator at the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre (2007-). Since 2008 she has specialized in engaging audiences with the exhibition processes. Her latest engagement project was at the Rauma Maritime Museum (2014-2015) where she worked as project manager responsible for collecting and displaying local shipbuilder's traditions.

Cathy Pelgrims (1966)

Graduate of the University of Leuven/Belgium (Archaeology) and University of Leiden/Holland (Museology). For thirteen years she has been working in cultural centres, with focus on projects with local communities and programming performing arts. Since 2006 as Head of Education involved in the making of the MAS|Museum aan de Stroom, a brand new museum in Antwerp (opened in 2011), that tells stories about the cultural exchange between the city and the world, thanks to the river and the port.

Liene Conard (1989)

Graduate of the Karel de Grote University College in Art en Culture mediation. Right away after graduation, started in the MAS | Museum aan de Stroom as a public and educational worker. I am responsible for the youth and museum project ‘MAS in Young Hands’, events and social media. Supporting public accessibility and education for temporary exhibitions.

Annemarie de Wildt (1956)

Annemarie de Wildt is a curator at the Amsterdam Museum. She has her MA in history (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam 1982). For the Amsterdam Museum and other museums she has curated many exhibitions on social history topics and was involved in various participatory projects within and outside the museum. De Wildt has published many books, catalogues and articles and she is a keen blogger.

Piret Õunapuu PhD (1955)

She graduated from the University of Tartu (1979) as an ethnographer. Since 1980 she has been working in the Estonian National Museum, where she has curated exhibitions on Estonian folk culture in Estonia and abroad. She has authored articles about ethnology and cultural history. Her doctoral thesis in the field of history was about the establishment and development of the Estonian National Museum. Her previous books have been concerned with traditions: Pühad ja kombed (‘Holidays and Traditions’) (2001); Eesti pulm (‘Estonian Wedding’) (2003); Nii meil jõulud tuppa toodi (‘This Is How We Filled Our Rooms with Christmas’) (2012). She has been the compiler of the Estonian National Museum’s publication series Vanavara kogumisretkedelt (‘From Heritage-Collection Trips’), Volumes 1−9, containing annotated diaries of heritage collectors. Piret Õunapuu is the board member of the Estonian Museum Association, a board member of the Learned Estonian Society. She is also a member of a number of international professional organisations.

Neidi Ulst (1958)

1976-1981 University of Tartu – Russian and Slavic Filology (BA). 1981-2007 teacher of Russian language and history in different primary and secondary schools. Since 2007 museum educator and tour guide at the Estonian Road Museum.


Conference fee 50 € / students 10 €
Registration is opened until on 18th August 2015.

I will attend excursion in Seaplane Harbour:

I will attend sightseeing tour by ship Katharina:

Maksja Eestis:
Saaja: Rahandusministeerium
Konto nr: EE8910 10220034796011
Pank: SEB
Viitenumber: 2100009598
Selgitus: Eesti Meremuuseumi teaduskonverentsi osalustasu
Payment from abroad:
Reciever: Ministry of Finance
IBAN EE8910 10220034796011
Bank: SEB
Reference No 2100009598

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Accommodation suggestions


We suggest our partners' special offers. When booking, use password "Museum"

Prices are given as per one night. Breakfast is included. 


Tallink Express Hotel

Single room or double room €45


Tallink Spa Hotel

Single room or double room €75


Tallinn Seaport Hotel

Single room €41 

Double room €45


Hotell Euroopa

Single room €65

Double room €70



Teele Saar

Manager of Research Department

Estonian Maritime Museum

E-mail: teele@meremuuseum.ee

Telephone +372 6807734

Mobile +372 56618664