19th International Conference of Agricultural Museums

22-26 July 2021


The International Association of Agricultural Museums (AIMA) will convene virtually, 22-26 July 2021: Past and Future Agricultures.

Past and Future Agricultures 2021 draws together leading museum practitioners and researchers to explore how museums can work to engage communities, audiences, specialists, and stakeholders in understanding and addressing the major food and sustainability issues that we face today.

Many of the pressing global challenges of our time connect to the development of food systems and to practices that sustain them in the present. These histories and ways of living are represented in museums, including specialist institutions and those with a wider social history or ethnography focus. The success of present-day food production is often dependent on factors similar to those that shaped farming in the past. Museums can help us to understand these histories and to inform future responses. They are powerful contexts for engaging people in discussions related to food and farming. CIMA 19 will focus on the role that museums and collections play but also aims to encourage debate of wider issues and partnerships.

As the largest gathering of international museum professionals who care for agricultural collections, CIMA provides opportunities to hear about best practice from across the world. There will be visits and presentations that illustrate how visitors can be engaged in the complexity of modern farming, with an emphasis on practical and affordable ideas. Through CIMA 19, we aim to develop our shared understanding as caretakers of our agricultural pasts and our role in shaping our farming futures.

Themes and focal areas may include but are not limited to:

  • Regional food and farming traditions
  • Public history, food and farming
  • Live animals in museums
  • Colonial-industrial legacies and farming histories
  • Heritage farming in developing nations
  • Diversity, inclusion and farming
  • Living practice and farming heritage
  • Creative practice and museums of farming
  • Engaging urban audiences with farming
  • Conserving and restoring farming heritage
  • Management and strategy in museums of farming
  • Farming futures, environment, and sustainability

The MERL and AIMA invite proposals of papers, panels, posters, and other forms of presentation. Please send a title, abstract (up to 300 words), and description of what format your contribution would take (up to 100 words) to agriculturemuseums.president at Please include ‘CIMA 19 Proposal’ in the subject line. All expressions of interest are welcome at this stage but we are particularly interested in the connection between museums, collections, researchers, and public engagement.

Closing date for proposals: 28 JUNE 2019

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), established in 1951, is owned and managed by the University of Reading, England. MERL began as an effort by agricultural faculty to capture and record the rapidly changing countryside following World War II.  Collections document the skills and experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present. Staff engaged in a major project of revisioning mission and revising exhibitions between 2014 and 2016. The museum re-opened in October 2016 with renewed commitment ot building bridges between the rural past and the urban present with an emphasis on the relevance of the countryside to diverse constituents today.