fbpx Directors Forum 2016: Unusual partners, strategic alliances | Ecsite

Directors Forum 2016: Unusual partners, strategic alliances

Ecsite Directors Forum, November 2016, Parque de las Ciencias, Granada, Spain © Ecsite / Parque de las Ciencias, Photographer: Antonio Navarro

Parque de la Ciencias hosted the 2016 Ecsite Directors Forum in Granada, Spain. 55+ Senior Managers of Ecsite Full Members came together for 2.5 days of peer learning and networking on the theme "Unusual partners, strategic alliances". A warm thank you to the Parque de las Ciencias team for pioneering the event's new format, adding a local touch and putting a poetic spin on the gathering.

Developed based on ideas from a participative workshop at the 2015 edition and an online survey conducted with Ecsite Full members, the new format is a careful mix of keynotes, contributions from Ecsite members, local discoveries and peer learning.

Browse through the pictures, check out the programme, get a glimpse of social media activity on Twitter and discover the summary below.


Save the date: the 2017 Ecsite Directors Forum will be hosted by Universcience at Palais de la Découverte and Cité des Sciences in Paris, France, on 4-6 October 2017. The theme will be "Science engagement & digital media: meant to be?". 



"Unusual partners, strategic alliances"

Unusual partners are becoming a common practice in our institutions. Heritage elements are being introduced in science centres, and interactive exhibits are appearing in museums. On our floors visitors encounter facilitators and scientists, but also opinionated activists, talkative robots or intelligent installations. Attendees explored the following questions: What does it mean to be a new kind of museum and science centre, a mirror of society’s concerns? Can we position our institutions as crossroads where scientists, artists, philosophers, policymakers, industrialists and creators find a place to interact with people and objects to trigger emotions, thoughts, ideas and new concerns? Which strategic partners and business models do we need to implement this ambitious vision?


A rich programme

The opening event started with tone-setting art-science performance: a mechanical dance enacted by a bicycle-spider. “Collaborations get us further than competition – look at the extraordinary Ecsite family! ”, exclaimed Ernesto Páramo Sureda, Director of Parque de las Ciencias in his welcome words. Indeed, echoed Ecsite President Michiel Buchel: ”the art & science twins are both needed for innovation”. Francisco Cuenca, Mayor of Granada & Vice-President of Consorcio Parque de las Ciencias, underlined the strong and long scientific history of Granada and Pilar Aranda, Dean Of Granada University & Board member of Parque de las Ciencias praised the symbiosis that unites university and science centre. Adelaida de la Calle, Minister of Education of Andalucia & President of Consorcio Parque de las Ciencias, expressed her pride to see Parque host the Ecsite Directors Forum as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. Seven speakers from Ecsite member organisations then took the stage to share their experience of unusual partnerships, including Nobel prize inspired fashion, a children’s innovation competition & exhibition and the intricacies of putting on a Cosmonaut exhibition in times of diplomatic tensions.

Participants were then invited to take a seat in front of Parque’s historical steam engine and enjoy the “Tribute to Steam” performance, combining live science experiments, magic tricks and historic storytelling. Dinner was served in Parque’s new “Biodomo” greenhouse: jamón serrano with a view on the mangrove. Attendees explored Parque’s permanent and temporary exhibitions, including “SOS. The science of prevention”, “WOW. Wonders of life” and “Sparks, Beyond the Lab”.

The next morning was spent exploring a pinacle of art-science and cultural cross-fertilizations: the Alhambra. Exclusive tours led participants through private rooms and luxurious gardens, discovering advanced architectural techniques and secret numbers.

Back at Parque de las Ciencias, a “provocation workshop” led by the Winner of the 2016 Mariano Gago Ecsite Award awaited attendees. Peter Skogh Director of Tekniska Museet, the Swedish National Museum of Science & Technology (Stockholm, Sweden), outlined the STEAM approach (where A stands for Arts) that guided the development of MegaMind, Tekniska Museet’s new exhibition space dedicated to creativity. Håkan Libdo, the artist who co-created the award-winning “Make Music with Your Whole Body” interactive exhibit, then challenged participants to creative exercises, inviting them to try a writer’s block antidote application, code music with candies or tackle the planet’s problems through a card game.

Lucía Villareal, Head of the Exhibitions Service at the Museo Nacional del Prado and Santiago Merino, Director of the Natural History Museum of Madrid-CSIC, delivered the first keynote. They described their joint “Natural Histories” exhibition in which artist Miguel Ángel Blanco’s installations invited visitors on a “scientific-artistic expedition”.

In the second keynote entitled “Building a culture of philanthropy for your institution”, President Museum of Science Boston Ioannis Miaoulis urged attendees to unpick the “big questions” underpinning the donor-institution relationship. He outlined his Museum’s fundraising strategy and explained how he built a coalition of donors around his pledge to introduce engineering into the US curriculum. Three respondents then shared their own experiences and opened the Q&A: Amito Haarhuis, Deputy Director at the NEMO Science Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Thorsten Künnemann, Director of Swiss Science Center Technorama (Winterthur, Switzerland) and Sharon Ament, Director, of the Museum of London (UK).

Participants dined with a view on the Alhambra at the exclusive Carmen de la Victoria university mess in the old Albaicín district, before joining a flamenco performance in the authentic troglodytic Cuevas del Sacromonte.

The last half day was dedicated to an in-depth peer exchange session, introduced by four leaders who told tales of re-branding, managing internal and external stakeholders, redefining strategies and getting teams on board: Hans Gubbels, Director of Museumplein Limburg (Kerkrade, The Netherlands), Robert Firmhofer, CEO of the Copernicus Science Centre (Warsaw, Poland), Anna Omedes, Director of the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (Spain) and Linda Conlon, Chief Executive of the International Centre for Life (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK).



  • #EcsiteDF2016
  • full members
  • Granada
  • parque de la ciencias
  • unusual partners



Parque de las Ciencias

Parque de las Ciencias is Andalusia’s science centre and museum. The museum is well situated in the center of Granada, the town of the Alhambra and Federico García Lorca. Parque de las Ciencias, under the motto A new kind of Museum, was founded in 1995 and occupies 70.000 square meters.