Interpret Europe web conference | 8-11 May 2020 | #iecon20

Keynote speakers

Every conference day will be opened by a keynote address. Our four keynote speakers are:

Kathrin MerkleKathrin Merkle heads the Culture and Cultural Heritage Division of the Council of Europe's Directorate of Democratic Participation and is Secretary of the Steering Committee on Culture, Heritage and Landscape. She oversees the Work of the Organization on Culture and Democracy, including indicators, cultural policy peer reviews, culture and digitisation/Internet of citizens, the European Cultural Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century and the Council of Europe heritage conventions. A sociologist and political scientist trained at the University of Heidelberg, Kathrin worked for three years with UNESCO in Paris in the field of statistics before joining the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1993. More recently, she has studied public-sector modernization and Internet governance. She is as curious about ancient cultural objects and contemporary cultural expressions as the latest developments concerning AI and their impact on culture and heritage. In her opening keynote, Kathrin will explain the intention behind the Council of Europe’s cultural heritage conventions, standards and strategies in the context of the Organisation’s core mission on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. She will introduce the Faro Convention as a unique standard for cultural heritage for society, whose principles are interpreted in interaction with society and that is implemented by society. We will then see what democratic governance through community involvement means in practice, and how this unfolds in the framework of multi-annual interventions at different places in Europe. Kathrin will make sure people's voices from these places are heard in the conference room in Tallinn and hopes to inspire participants to engage with the Council of Europe's heritage standards and tools.
The Council of Europe has been involved in European cultural co-operation for 65 years and has developed many international standards in the field of culture and cultural heritage. In view of current challenges, the Council of Europe published in 2018 the Committee of Ministers Recommendation to member states on cultural heritage facing climate change: increasing resilience and promoting adaptation. The Council of Europe is currently finalising a new recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on cultural heritage in the face of the risks of day-to-day management.


Dirk GotzmannDirk Gotzmann is the director of CIVILSCAPE. On behalf of the organization, he is since 2017 member of the high-level stakeholder consultation group "Voices of Culture" of the EU Commission, DG EAC. The stakeholder group consists of 30 representatives of cultural heritage network and institutional members like UNESCO, Council of Europe and OECD.
The daily work includes the advocacy for landscape towards the European Union including the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the UNESCO.
CIVILSCAPE is an international association of more than 132 civil society organizations, economic entities and public institutions from more than 32 countries in Europe. These are non-governmental organisations (NGO), economic entities and public institutions which dedicate their work to landscape protection, management and planning, according to the “European Landscape Convention” (Florence, October 20th 2000).


Agnes AljasAgnes Aljas is Research Secretary of The Estonian National Museum, curator of contemporary collecting and a visitor studies researcher. She has been part of the Museum’s communication research group, where the formation of participatory projects at the Estonian National Museum has been a focus, for more than 10 years. As researcher she deals with audience studies and participatory influence from the participants’ perspective, with special focus on urban life and ethnographic museums.
She is currently a chair of the ICOM Estonia and board member of ICOM ICME (International Committee for Collections and Museum of Ethnography) and lecturer in the University of Tartu.
Recent publications include, Participation in the Museum: Diverse Audiences and Their Motivations at the Estonian National Museum, in Museums and Innovation; and Motivations for Participating in Museum Interventions, in Media Transformations. She has participated in a number of international studies and research projects, for example the Creative Europe project MOI – Museums of Impact.Her presentation will focus on recent work that they have been doing within the field of communication at the Estonian National Museum. The presentation is part of a larger project that deals with museum change and participatory practices in contemporary societal contexts.
In the last decade museums have become more participatory and inclusive, changing both museum and participant relations to heritage. Drawing on the work of scholars in the fields of communication, information society and power relations, and taking the criticism that participatory practices have no significance to heritage into account, I want to explore participant relationships with museums and how they can be made sustainable.
The aim is to analyse the new position of the audience in museums, which has evolved from a passive to a more active role. Using Estonian museum practices, and particularly the example of the Estonian National Museum (ENM), the keynote will chart changes of museum roles and activities, dealing with participants and participant perspectives of heritage.
The ENM is located in Tartu, and in 2016 opened in a new building with renewed participatory exhibitions. Participatory influence is not a new thing for museums, for example the ENM’s correspondents network was born in the 1930s and still actively influences museum archive collections.
The ENM also serves as the starting point for discussion on the various modes of cultural participation in the heritage field in general, and for analyse of the strategies that museums and the heritage sector use in participatory activities.


Agnes AljasLisa Brochu has invested over 40 years in the protection of natural and cultural heritage through training, writing, and facilitating complex projects that require careful communication between partners. Lisa began her career in 1977, assisting governmental agencies, communities and non-profit organisations in more than 24 countries with capacity building, interpretive communications training, strategic planning and interpretive planning. In 2002, she became the full-time Associate Director of the USA’s National Association for Interpretation (NAI). During her tenure there, she expanded the certification and training programme she created, facilitated the Definitions Project to create a common vocabulary for the profession, and worked with focus groups to develop NAI’s first published Standards and Best Practices documents. In 2012, she returned to freelance consulting, working as Heartfelt Associates. Lisa authored a textbook on interpretive planning that is often considered the foremost text on the subject, along with co-authoring five other textbooks on natural and cultural interpretation, an award-winning book on sustainable community planning, and an award-winning novel about the plight of orphans in East Africa. Lisa’s keynote address, Never Lose Heart, will explore how those of us living and working in heritage communities might find inspiration to rebuild more sustainable operations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing the elements of the HEART model from her book, Put the HEART Back in Your Community: Unifying Diverse Interests around a Central Theme.