Hosted by M and KU Leuven

51st Annual IVLA Conference

16.10.2019 - 19.10.2019
Register to attend

51st Annual Conference of the International Visual Literacy Association

We live in an era of images. We make images, share them, consume them, use them, are influenced and even aestheticized by them, more and faster than ever before. But what is the next step? How do institutions such as museums and schools prepare for an image saturated future?

Register to attend | Full conference program | Practical info

Thursday highlights | Friday highlights | Conference Dinner | Guided Tour of BrusselsContact

Navigating the visual: Crossing the boundaries of Theories and practices

Driven by our increasingly visual society, there has been an explosion of research on the visual in different research areas such as psychology, sociology and art theory, numerous innovative practices in the fields of museums, education and marketing and a growing amount of methodologies measuring the impact of the visual. This 51st IVLA conference, hosted by M, brings together these different perspectives, joining scholars, students, and practitioners from all over the world in an interesting exchange of ideas, aiming to provide new theoretical insights and fuel innovative practices. 

Thursday highlights

Keynote speaker: Brian Kennedy

Kennedy is an art museum director who has worked in Ireland and Australia, and now lives and works in the United States. He currently is the Director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Boston. He was the Director of the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio from 2010 until 2019 and of the Hood Museum of Art from 2005 to 2010, and the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra) from 1997 to 2004. He advocates a paradigm change in curation towards visual literacy and ultimately the multisensorial. Kennedy is a driving force in transforming the museum landscape.

Keynote speaker: Ernst Wagner

Ernst is a lecturer and senior-researcher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and at the UNESCO-Chair in Arts Education in Erlangen. Educated as an artist at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and graduated with a PhD in art history at the University of Munich, he chaired the European Network for Visual Literacy (ENViL) in 2016 and 2017 and coordinated the development of the “Common European Framework for Visual Literacy”. He is a member of the European Regional Council of InSEA and honorary professor at the Hong Kong University of Education.

Parallel sessions: Thinking the Visual

Thinking about the visual is as old as the practice of producing images. In different fields, scholars continue to think about theoretical models of the visual. The session maps theoretical approaches from different disciplines and stimulates interesting cross-pollination.


Parallel sessions: Applying the Visual

The visual invades the private life of people through old and new media on a daily basis. Understanding the mechanisms behind this is crucial. This session includes contributions on visual strategies, techniquesand methodologies that are used in advertising, the art market, social media studies and time-based media.


Workshop on (visual) Emotion Design by Studio Louter.

Case study: The Gothic Saint Peter’s church in Leuven

How can you use mixed reality to create a meaningful, unforgettable and authentic visitor experience within a sacred site? How can you reveal the versatile stories of a church filled with Flemish masterpieces to a wider audience? In this talk M – Museum Leuven and Studio Louter explain how they applied the Emotion Design method to develop a meaningful and unique digital sensory visitor experience in the restored St Peter’s Church. Mixed Reality on a HoloLens allows to extend the physical space beyond its limitations and brings centuries-old artworks such as Dieric Bouts’ masterpiece The Last Supper closer than ever before.

Friday highlights

Keynote speaker: Alva Noë
Alva Noë is a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT 2004), Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (FSG 2009), Varieties of Presence (Harvard 2012), and Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (FSG, 2015). His newest book is Infinite Baseball: Notes from a Philosopher at the Ballpark (OUP 2019). He is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Center for New Media and the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2018 recipient of the Judd Hume Prize in Advanced Visual Studies.

Parallel sessions: Measuring the Visual

The visual has a large impact on our thinking and behavior. Several disciplines try to map this influence trough data sets based on phenomena/topics such as color, digital imagery and spatial skills. This session comprises several methodologies such as eye tracking and psychometric analysis.


Parallel sessions: Learning the Visual

To enhance visual literacy competencies and stimulate critical thinking, specific visual (learning) experiences are created in specific contexts, such as classrooms, museum galleries, and other public spaces. This has created a myriad of good practices in very different settings.  This session brings together scholars and practitioners from the field of education, museum studies and cultural heritage institutions.  Together they will focus on the questions of ‘why’ and ‘how’ the visual should take a central role in education.


Workshop on eye movement research by Johan Wagemans

Johan Wagemans is a full professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences and head of the Experimental Psychology Unit (University of Leuven) and has decades of experience in psycho-aesthetics of visual arts.


Did you see it? This question is sometimes difficult to answer. As it happens, everybody sees things differently. This makes looking at art and the experience of art unique. There is no better place than a museum to research how people look at art and analyze the processes that are involved in the interpretation and appreciation of an image. M – Museum Leuven organized an experiment, in cooperation with the Laboratory for Experimental Psychology KU Leuven, which mapped the eye movement patterns of over 2000 visitors. During this workshop, Prof. Dr. Johan Wagemans provides insight into the biology of perception and the research possibilities of eye movement research and visual arts.


Conference dinner

The IVLA conference dinner will be held on Thursday October 17th at De Smidse, a unique, charming old building, where brewer Stella Artois historically forged its brew coppers. Today De Smidse is converted into a covered artisanal food market, still maintaining its rusty charm. The venue can be reached by a fifteen-minute walk from the museum.


The walking dinner will be provided by Restaurant Rossi: awarded by Gault & Millau as the best Italian chef in Belgium.



€ 35 - Additional drinks can be ordered and paid at the bar.

Please note that the conference dinner ticket sale coleses on October 11th.

Guided tour of Brussels

Conference participants are warmly invited to join the guided tour of Brussels on Saturday October 19th, 10.30 am – 4pm.

Peter Carpreau, head of the Old Masters department, will be your guide of the day.



10:00    10: 30     Gathering at the main ticket office of the Leuven train station

10:30     11:00     Train to Brussels

11:15     12:45     Guided visit of the Magritte Museum

12:45     14:00     Lunch

14:00     16:00     Guided tour of Brussels

16:00     16u30    Train to Leuven


€ 15 – train ticket and lunch not included

Please note that the ticket sale for the guided tour closes on October 5th.

Register to attend | Full conference program | Practical info

Thursday hightlights | Friday highlights | Conference dinner | Guided tour of Brussels | Contact

Hosted by M – Museum Leuven and KU Leuven. In cooperation with the European Network for Visual Literacy (ENViL) and the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA).