The 2nd Conference of the International Alliance of Museums of the Silk Road (IAMS) was held via video link on November 17, 2021. It is chaired by Dr. Wang Chunfa, President of the IAMS and Director of the National Museum of China (NMC). Representatives of 22 national museums and institutions from 15 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania attended the conference and delivered speeches.

Wang opened the conference with a review of the practical cooperation in exhibitions, personnel exchanges, and academic research within the framework of the IAMS since the 1st Conference of the alliance. Representatives of nine new members from eight countries, including the Rundāle Palace Museum, Latvia, the Hungarian National Museum, the Fiji Museum, and the Confucius Museum, China, introduced their museums and shared their practices in addressing the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

Participants exchanged views on the theme “Digitization and Innovation: Museums in the Post-Pandemic Era”. Wang said in his keynote speech that the post-COVID-19 era not only brought challenges and uncertainty to global museums in their pursuit of progress but also presented opportunities for further development and transformation. Museums have been seeking appropriate ways to develop in the post-COVID-19 era by revitalizing collection resources, introducing new approaches of conservation and employing digital reality technologies. Wang shared the NMC’s experience in building a smart museum in the post-COVID-19 era from four aspects, i.e. online exhibitions empowered by new technologies, innovative way of conservation, smart management with integration of new technologies and online international exchanges.

Other participants shared their good practices in organizing online exhibitions and livestreaming activities, promoting museum digitization and interactions through social media, etc., offering suggestions of development in new directions in the post-COVID-19 era. There was a consensus that holding the conference at this particular time would make a positive contribution to the continuous promotion of cultural development along the Silk Road as well as exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. In addition, the conference bolsters museums’ confidence and determination in facing the upcoming challenges.

Wang made three suggestions for promoting exchanges and cooperation among IAMS members in face of the uncertainty of the pandemic. The first is advancing exchanges and cooperation via exhibitions to cement people-to-people ties. The second is using digital technologies to promote the transformation and development of museums in the post-COVID-19 era. The third is adopting innovative means to strengthen international exchanges among IAMS members.

Founded in May 2017, the IAMS is a non-governmental, non-profit and open international cooperation mechanism and communication platform in the field of museums for countries and regions along the Silk Road. Now it has 166 members from across five continents.