Global Conversations: Museum Diplomacy in Changing Times

Panel Discussion

Global Conversations: Museum Diplomacy in Changing Times

Date: March 8, 2023, 6:30 pm
Price: $10 Regular, $9 Friends, $7.50 Students and Seniors
Museum admission is free on Wednesday nights from 4–8 pm.
Can't make it to the Museum? Watch live via Zoom. Click here to register.

This International Women's Day, join Dr. Sarah Smith, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Art, Culture and Global Relations and Dr. Sascha Priewe, Director of Collections and Public Programs of the Aga Khan Museum, as they sit down with Dr. Ulrike Al-Khamis, CEO and Director of the Aga Khan Museum, Anne Elisabeth Thibault, Executive Director of Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal’s Archaeology and History Complex, and Sabrina Lynn Motley, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the Center for
Folklife and Cultural Heritage to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing cultural institutions at this moment.


With significant changes in the world, from the impact of the global pandemic to ongoing conflicts and a call to respond better to local audiences, what does museum leadership look like through these tumultuous times? How has global engagement changed in the wake of COVID-19?


This panel responds to a 2019 study of the global activities of ten museums across Canada. Returning to this research following the pandemic, they seek to assess the impact of the pandemic on cultural institutions.


Enjoy a special performance by all-girls singing group, Sound of Afghanistan, preceding the panel discussion. 


This panel discussion is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


This event will also be live-streamed via Zoom.


About the Panelists


Sabrina Lynn Motley

Sabrina Lynn Motley is the Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Before joining the Center in 2013, she was the Senior Director of Programs and Exhibitions at the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston. Motley earned her bachelor’s degree from the World Arts & Cultures Program and a master’s degree in African studies at UCLA. She is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at UCLA, where she conducted research on the interplay between religious faith, doubt, and social activism. As a teacher, Motley has taught cultural anthropology at the Art Center College of Design and the Otis Institute for Art and Design.


Anne Élisabeth Thibault

Anne Élisabeth Thibault is the Director of Pointe-à-Callière. With over 20 years of experience in museology, heritage, technology development, and resource management, Thibault has been part of successful teams such as Moment Factory and FLOAT4. She has travelled internationally for conferences and exhibitions, showcasing Canadian museum expertise and is also a member of ICOM-Canada.


Dr. Ulrike Al-Khamis

CEO and Director of the Aga Khan Museum, Dr. Ulrike Al- Khamis is a recognized leader in the field of Islamic art and museology. Dr. Al-Khamis holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Art from the University of Edinburgh and has served as Co-Director at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization as well as Senior Strategic Advisor to the Sharjah Museum Department in the U.A.E. She began her career in Scotland, where she worked as Principal Curator for South Asia and the Middle East at the National Museums of Scotland and Curator for Muslim Art and Culture at Glasgow Museums.


About the Moderators


Dr. Sarah Smith

Dr. Sarah E.K. Smith is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Art, Culture, and Global Relations in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario, where she runs the Practitioner Media Lab. Her writing and curatorial projects address contemporary art and museums, cultural diplomacy, as well as creative labour. Dr. Smith is co‐founder of the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative, a multidisciplinary research network of academics, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of critical cultural diplomacy.


Dr. Sascha Priewe

Director of Collections and Public Programs of the Aga Khan Museum, Dr. Sascha Priewe previously worked at the Royal Ontario Museum and as a Curator at the British Museum. Dr. Priewe holds a DPhil in Archaeology from Oxford University. A Senior Fellow of Massey College, Dr. Priewe is a co-founder of the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative and sits on the boards of ICOM Canada and the Ontario Museum Association. He is also cross-appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Toronto and as an Affiliated Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University.


About Sound of Afghanistan



Famous in Afghanistan for their songs about human dignity, democracy, and women's rights, Songs of Afghanistan has earned millions of views on YouTube. Recently evacuated to Canada by the 30 Birds Foundation, they will be singing songs to raise awareness of the need to support Afghan girls, both in Canada and Afghanistan. 


ICOM Canada

ICOM Canada is the Canadian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). As the only Canadian museums association dedicated to global museology, ICOM Canada connects the work and initiatives of Canadian museums to the global museum community and vice versa. The organization serves as a gateway for Canadians to the global museum community, connects its members to each other and to the world, and supports Canadian museums and museum professionals as agents of change at the intersection of local and global developments.


North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative (NACDI)

NACDI is a multi-disciplinary research network of academics, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of critical cultural diplomacy (CD) from North America and beyond. Its objective is to advance new scholarship and research that provides a greater understanding of how CD functions to connect North America globally, not merely as part of the “soft power” toolkit of nation-states but as a multi-directional practice that encompasses a broad range of non-state actors, including cultural institutions, managers, producers, consumers, and communities seeking to imagine counter-hegemonic possibilities and inclusive futures.

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