Category: Conferences and Seminars

Museums Association Conference Blog 6

When MDNW gave me the opportunity to attend the Museums Association Conference I realised it’d be a fantastic opportunity for gaining inspiration and learning best museum practice. The themes of this year’s conference were Audience, Collections and Workforce; as you can imagine with the mix of topics available and a two day programme of exciting speakers it was a challenge to choose which seminars to attend. I found the conference app extremely useful for this acting as a one stop shop to the whole event. There was access to daily programmes, events and exhibitors information. The My Agenda function was really convenient and helped me to shortlist seminars, identify clashes and then decide on the programme best for me.

The Conference started with an extremely positive welcome from conference host Hilary Carty that really set the tone for the next two days, followed by speeches from the conference coordinators of the three main themes. Social purpose is becoming more central to museums and their collections and these themes get us thinking about how museums get audiences more active, participatory and engaged with our collections. Lemn Sissay’s opening poem presented how often the simplest tasks are complicated by bureaucracy and how truly ridiculous things can get. Some of the scenarios may have been exaggerated but they were things I have come across and despite being light-hearted and entertaining I’m sure it resonated with everyone in that Exchange Auditorium and it was good to know I wasn’t the only one.

I was really interested in looking at new ways to use the collection, especially to increase income generation. Like many sites, offsetting running costs with income is becoming increasingly important as funding becomes more stretched. Because of this I attended the seminar, Should Museums Sweat their Assets. The panel consisted of professionals from Royal Greenwich Museum, Norfolk Museum’s and the University of Aberdeen Museum, all very different types of organisations but it was established pretty quickly in the discussion that yes – museums need to do it as a necessity. The real question was how much should you sweat them? Some of the methods that they used were not suitable to apply to my museum, but they had certain principles that could be applied to any site. Firstly don’t be afraid to say no, if you don’t think an event or opportunity fits in with you branding then don’t do it. Secondly, make sure that anything you do is within your capacity to deliver. Finally and most importantly, don’t be afraid to try new things out. Takings risks can be good, sometimes failures happen (even at big venues!) You can learn from those failures but will gain much on the successes.

This leads nicely onto another very inspirational talk at the conference, the keynote speech from 14-18 NOW Director Jenny Waldmen and artist Jeremy Deller. Not only was the story behind the sensational We’re Here because We’re Here project fascinating but Jeremy’s talk around what motivated him to take on the commission was really sounds like Art briefs set by museums can be so specific and full of guidelines that they can stunt creativity and put artists off. It was the open brief given to him by Jenny that convinced him to take on the role. What was her brief?   ‘We don’t know what to do for the centenary of the Somme, do you have any ideas’ – as simple as that but it gave him the freedom to create something truly unique and relevant. Museums seem to have a reluctance to give ‘power’ to the unknown. This is something that came up in an earlier seminar on Youth Participation with a young artist Pat Farrell, but as Jenny advised partnerships only work when generosity is given from all sides and it seems that that includes artist freedom to explore. Assessing the 14-18 NOW commission, ok, the soldiers were not in the museums, museums did not get the initial footfall, but the visibility of such a project to regular public had a massive impact with 48% of audiences wanting to go an learn more which would not have been successful if not for external thinking.

Another excellent seminar was Belief Trumps Facts looking at where museums sit in a world of ‘fake news’ and ‘experts’ and as trusted institutions what is our role in ensuring that we provide a balanced narrative. One particularly interesting discussion by the panel surrounded if and how museums can ethically accept funds from organisations with specific agendas. How important it is to provide ‘real’ information, particularly when covering global or sensitive issues. In an era where there is less money available should institutions be turning down funds/sponsorship to run their programme. General thought by the panel was museums should be covering important issues like these but it was integral that museums researched the information to ensure it was a true story. Research the individuals first then look at the wider story and finally if it controversial then it needs to be much more rigorously researched.

Alongside the main programme there were other events running throughout the conference. Free workshops were offered to all museum professionals with a diverse and engaging programme running across both days. I luckily managed to get a seat in the Developing Innovative Events Programmes workshop with a focus on events around the Robots exhibition by the Science Museums Group. It was an interesting workshop but extremely busy. This could be applied to all of the workshops, as I couldn’t get into the others. I stood at the back trying to listen but with the noise of the exhibition hall I gave up. Feedback for next year, run these sessions in bigger spaces. This did give me an opportunity to experience some of the other fantastic offerings at the Conference put on by the Festival of Change. I adjourned from talks and museums to attended a relaxing life drawing class put on in exchange

Final thoughts on the conference; I really enjoyed the three days and the difficulty in choosing which seminars to attend was testament to how good the programmed sessions were. I attended thirteen sessions across Thursday and Friday and took away lots of ideas to go back to site with. The keynotes were wonderful, Lemn Sissay, Alejandra Naftal and the fantastic presentation by the wonderfully wobbly Francesca Martinez were the highlights of the conference. I would recommend any museums professional go to one of these lively events. Thanks MDNW.

Jenny Ingham, Museum Manager, Queen Street Mill Textile Museum


Museums Association Conference Blog 5

Trying to reflect on one of the most challenging and moving presentations I have encountered in my professional career has proved somewhat difficult. A week after the conference I found myself trying to convey to friends the experience of listening to Alejandra Naftal, Director and Co-Curator of the ESMA Memory Site Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, talk about her museum and the ‘Disappeared’ of the Argentinian military dictatorship.

The museum is a former military building, which was used by the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983 as a clandestine centre for detention, torture and extermination. Some 30,000 people were ‘disappeared’ by the state. Children born in captivity were given away to military families, their real identities hidden from them. In a powerful and moving presentation, Alejandra explored the museums role in modern Argentinian society.

When it is easy to become bogged down in an institutional bubble and distracted by day to day concerns, the conference helped me reengage with the bigger questions facing our sector; why do museums matter, how do we engage with the challenges that face modern society and how do we better represent that society?

Focusing primarily on the Curatorial strand of the conference, I was very impressed with the panels I attended. They all made me look afresh at the work of my own museum and our collections. In the Legacies of Empire panel, Yasmin Khan delivered a very honest appraisal about the challenges and rewards of co-curation as museums seek to better represent the varied communities from which British society is drawn. Jonathan Wallis of Derby Museums too delivered an impressive illustration of how to engage with the often forgotten traces of Empire in local museum collections that are anything but local in nature.

Panels on the Fearful Object and Reanimating Collections of Disability History also provided other examples of best practise to aspire to. In the Fearful Object it was particularly interesting to see the shared challenges that were encountered in quite different settings and the support we can give each other as professionals. In Reanimating Collections of Disability, the combination of presentations on current exhibitions and a practical workshop element was particularly useful.

The wider provision of workshops was my one area of disappointment. These were frequently too full to allow people in and after some initial attempts I gave up. It seemed a shame to advertise these workshops, by all accounts very good, and then host them in quite small venues.

To end on this critical note would not be reflective though of what was a very positive experience. Since then I have been trying to take the time to look again at my own museum and reflect on how we can better represent the world around us. It may seem a long way from the subject matter of the ESMA Memory Site to that of the National Football Museum but there are fact close links. In reading more about the Disappeared I was reminded that the prisoners were allowed to listen to radio coverage of the 1978 World Cup Final. Argentina beat Holland in a stadium only a short distance from the ESMA Memory Site Museum, with the fans celebrations audible to those incarcerated inside. Thanks to Alejandra’s presentation, I now look at familiar items in our collection in a very different way.

Alexander Jackson, Collections Officer, The National Football Museum

Museums Association Conference 2017 Report 4

There was a poignant moment in Lemn Sissay’s entertaining keynote speech at the start of this year’s MA conference when he asked the packed hall: “does it annoy you when other people call themselves curators?” As a first-time delegate, thanks to a funded place from Museum Development North West, I suddenly felt very aware of being an industry insider. In an auditorium of museum professionals who all seemed to look the same and dress the same, I felt like a member of an established community that is still coming to terms with opening up its rituals and practises to Britain’s diverse communities and more tellingly, developing a truly diverse workforce of its own.

One of the dominant themes of conference was museums’ drive to be radical, participatory and socially engaged in the spirit of the Museums Change Lives agenda. From MA Director Sharon Heal’s own Keynote speech to the MA Transformers Festival of Change, everybody was encouraged to think about how museums can build bridges in our divided society. There were many well-thought-out sessions illustrating how museums are forming meaningful partnerships with hard-to-reach communities. I particularly enjoyed the presentation ‘Dissenting Voices’ that looked at how organisations work to reflect the views of marginalised groups. This included Tom Turtle from the Homeless Museum and speakers from the People’s History Museum and Derry and Strabane District Council. I also found the session ‘Legacies of Empire’ extremely thought provoking. Jonathan Wallis from Derby Museum reminded us how much collecting emanates from colonialism and the centuries of cruelty and exploitation it relied on. Other speakers emphasised how far museums still need to go in terms of diversifying their own workforce, if they wish to do justice to stories of Empire and its painful legacy. Thanks should also go to Jean-François Manicom from the International Slavery Museum for showcasing such a stunning film.

On the second day of conference I attended excellent sessions on ‘Working with Refugees’ and ‘Reanimating Collections of Disabled Histories’ that called on museums to be far bolder in tackling these topical issues. As a profession we are undoubtedly working hard to change lives and it is fair to say that the many examples of innovative practise showcased at conference already add up to a substantial sum of parts. We were shown how brilliant projects that help people to gain self-respect and empowerment through collections can be created on a shoestring, but having said this, there is no room for complacency…

With austerity set to continue, there was much talk of the need for museums to widen their core activities to generate income. In the session ‘Should Museums Sweat their Assets’ the panel agreed that for most visitors a good café, shop, clean toilets and baby changing are as much part of the museum experience as the galleries and exhibits beyond the foyer. This made me think again about the emphasis being placed on representing diversity in our institutions. This diversity of race and class, so often missing amongst the predominantly white and middle-class professionals who came to conference is most often found in museum cleaning, catering and front of house teams. It would be good to see some of them at conference and hear their voices too.

Bill Longshaw, Collections Assistant, Gallery Oldham    

Museums Association Conference 2017 Report 3

I am sure I was not alone in spending a considerable amount of time trawling through the Museum Conference guide, trying to decide which seminars and workshops to attend. I felt that the amount on offer covered a real breadth of subjects; many of which were pertinent to my own situation. In the end I just couldn’t get to everything I earmarked, but nonetheless felt that I got an awful lot from the conference; perhaps even more than I had first anticipated. This included new ideas, some actual practical knowledge e.g. how to use a raspberry pi and also to an extent some reassurances that what we are doing here in my own workplace is in line with what others are doing.

On the whole it was some of the larger panel discussions that I got the most from and I managed to attend seven of them which were broadly connected to youth participation and learning, volunteers and health and wellbeing. I particularly enjoyed the format of these hour long sessions which included 3 speakers, a chair and the opportunity for questions at the end. I felt that the multiple speakers gave different perspectives; bringing the topics to life. For example, a seminar about youth participation included an artist who had been employed by the Whitworth. His honesty about the position and his initial cynicism was refreshing and added another dimension to more academic work carried out in this area. It was a useful reminder that everyone has ownership of museums and certainly made me ask what should museums be and who should they be for? We were posed the question ‘Who do we give the power to’? which opened the way for interesting discussion, debate and further questions for the panel.

One of the things I took away is that it is ok and even encouraged to take a risk. Listening to ‘Out of the Classroom’ (a schools project which took place in Wales and involved taking the reception classes into a museum for 5 weeks) and to Funders in Conversation (HLF, Esmee Fairburn, Arts Fund and Hamlyn Foundation), particularly highlighted this. I’ve already quoted some of the things that were said by the funding directors in my own workplace. Some of these large funders can seem like massive faceless bodies and so actually seeing and hearing these directors speak did make them seem more personable and we were given some useful practical tips for the applications too. I now have many notes to refer back to and even looking at them now is reminding me of all of the ways in which I may be able to implement ideas in my own setting.

Health and wellbeing has also become a topic close to my heart over recent years and finding out about the opportunities to feed into the research, as well as the various networks out there was a real insight. Listening to people involved in the ‘It’s not so grim up north’, project again was brought to life by the inclusion of not only the academics evaluating the work, but by one of the participants who has now gone on to volunteer for the project, as well as a staff member involved in implementing the project giving us a well rounded examination of it.

I also enjoyed being able to hear from international speakers such as Alejandra Naftal who spoke about the ESMA memory site. Although our challenges are vastly different, it was a great reminder that my organisation is not in isolation and there are so many other museums out there that we can approach for help and advice.

I did manage to have a look around the exhibitor stands although I found this perhaps to be the most daunting aspect of the conference. This was because coming from an organisation with little money I was conscious of trying not to ‘waste’ peoples times. Nonetheless it was good to keep an eye on who is out there and could possibly be approached in the future. Similarly I did go to some of the workshop sessions and found them useful to varying degrees. A top tip would be to get there in plenty of time if you desperately want to see one and don’t try to dash from a previous session as you may end up right at the back struggling to hear or encouraged to go right to the front where you will have to sit on the floor.

I am very grateful to Museums Development North West for the opportunity to attend my first Museums Association Conference. I have plenty of notes, ideas and contacts to chase up and really appreciated the opportunity to network and see the bigger picture as it were. All in all a pretty inspiring two days.

Kate Dobson, Museum Manager, Nantwich Museum

Save the Date – Money and Medals Network (MMN) Conference

The British Museum
Friday 23rd March 2018

This event will mark three years of funding from Arts Council England and celebrate the work conducted so far.

The content of the day will cover the work of MMN over the past three years, outlining its key achievements and demonstrating to a wider audience how the Network has been active all over the UK with the collections mapping project and the provision of training. It will represent an opportunity to learn more about MMN and the approaches that are being taken to different aspects of numismatics by a number of key participating institutions.

It will also be a chance to meet colleagues from other UK public institutions to share knowledge and ideas about museum numismatic collections. In addition, there will be a chance for delegates to see the British Museum’s exhibition about the Money and Medals Network which will be on display in Room 69a from 22 March until 30 September 2018.

This conference is open to anyone working or volunteering with numismatic collections in UK museums.

Attendance is free, but booking is essential. Lunch will be provided and a limited number of travel bursaries are available.

Further details, including how to book, will be available very soon, but until then please put this date in your diaries!

Museums Association Conference 2017 Report 2

I was lucky enough to have a place funded by Museum Development North West so I could attend the Museums Association conference for the first time.  I’m so glad that I took up this opportunity as it was a very different experience to what I had imagined and certainly well worthwhile for a broad-ranging generalist museum role such as my own. 

There was certainly a wide variety of workshops and presentations to attend.  I chose to attend mostly the sessions which offered real case studies and practical advice.  Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust gave one of the best workshops of this type that I’ve ever attended, exploring ways to improve access without any budget at all, packed with lots of ideas to immediately take away and use.  The team behind the excellent ‘My Primary School Is At The Museum’ project shared their experiences in a very open, honest and practical way which has really encouraged me to work towards trying something with a long term school residency at my museum.

The conference certainly is the definitive hub for our sector.  It was great to catch up with colleagues who I hadn’t seen for years, along with peers who I’d never met before, but share the same challenges and then come away with some new ideas and plans for shared projects at the end of the chat.  The exhibitors’ stalls were also a good way to discover new innovations and chat through plans for developments.

I thought it was worth trying out some of the more esoteric presentations in the main auditorium to really get a broader feel of the conference, but found them a bit frustrating as there seems to be a disconnect between the larger, and much better resourced, museums and the sort of heritage world I experience in my everyday work, so I headed off to try more of the seminars elsewhere.  I’m glad I did as I found the session “The Fearful Object” a thoroughly fascinating and thought-provoking presentation.  Various museums shared their experiences of working with significant objects in their collections that had the power to offend, upset or challenge visitors.  They discussed the way they had approached the display of such artefacts, and why it is often better to address these difficult subjects to give a deeper understanding of our stories, but all agreed that this had to be done in a way that the visitors gained a full appreciation of the context they came from.  Nathaniel Hepburn, when discussing his experiences at Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft used two phrases which stuck in my head; “Just because some voices shout loudly, it doesn’t mean they are right.”, and then, “When you need help, ask.  The sector will hold you”.  These summed up for me the sense of inspiration and solidarity which I took away from the conference.

Tom Hughes, Collections & Audience Officer at Port Sunlight Village Trust and Chair of Museums of Cheshire.

Museums Association Conference 2017 Report

Museum Development North West kindly funded me to attend the Museums Association Conference in Manchester, this was the first time I’d attended. The conference was very beneficial for a number of reasons, most importantly it was a great opportunity to network with colleagues old and new. I had some really exciting positive conversations with key decision makers at a number of museums, with a large number of leads for myself and team to follow up on.

The Museums Association Conference gave that much needed space to explore new ideas with a variety of organisations in a way simply not possible in our day-to-day working. As a Greater Manchester based organisation, I also found the fact the conference was in Manchester meant that there was a more intense focus on the role of heritage institutions within our city region. It was particularly interesting to hear from Donna Hall, CEO of Wigan Council and the lead for Culture in GMCA. Similarly, Lemn Sissay’s keynote was one of the most entertaining and thought provoking I’ve heard, especially relevant due to his role as Chancellor at the University of Manchester.

There were a number of other fascinating sessions which I attended about the national picture of museums and heritage institutions. Specifically, hearing directly from Neil Mendoza about his independent review of museums and the subsequent grilling from Ian Blatchford so soon after the publication of the report was absolutely invaluable. Likewise, the in conversation with the leads at HLF, Esme Fairburn and Paul Hamlyn Foundation in the light of this review gave important insight to the sector and the role of funders in supporting organisations.

I’m still piecing my way through reams of notes and expect to be following up on conversations for many weeks to come, but certainly would recommend anyone working in the museums sector to attend this annual event.

Tom Besford, Touchstones Rochdale

Museums Association Conference Regional Highlights

In a few weeks the Museums Association (MA) Conference will return to Manchester and we’re thrilled to see so many organisations and colleagues from the region represented in the programme. The themes this year are Audiences, Workforce and Collections and the topics covered are hugely diverse and well-informed.

Looking at the programme can be daunting so with that in mind we’ve had a look and pulled together a list of sessions that feature speakers from the North West:

Thursday 16th November

08:45 – 09:45
Keynote: Lemn Sissay
Exchange Auditorium

Award-winning poet, playwright and author Lemn Sissay, who was born in north-west England, is an associate artist at London’s Southbank Centre and the chancellor of the University of Manchester. His work includes poetry, plays, music, public art and radio and television appearances. Sissay has worked with a number of museums and galleries, including London’s Foundling Museum, where he recently became a trustee. He was the first poet commissioned to write for 2012 London Olympics.

10:30 – 11:00
Using Social Media to Maximise Impact
Workshop Room 2

Manchester Museum explains how they used social media to maximise public engagement with the Climate Control exhibition, and share top tips on how museums can create their own campaigns. Aimed at anyone using social media, from beginners to seasoned pros.

David Gelsthorpe Curator of Earth Science Collections, Manchester Museum
Rachel Webster Curator of Botany, Manchester Museum

10:50 – 11:50
Youth Participation
Charter 2

Despite decades of policy, funding and participatory activity, museums and galleries still lack diverse audiences and artistic programmes. Recently, a bigger more radical idea re-emerged – using youth participation to encourage organisational change and to create more responsive, robust and representative organisations. This session provokes and challenges the audience, asking them to consider questions about organisational norms and barriers to change. And who is getting it right and how can they influence museums and galleries?

Hannah Lake Head of Learning, Royal Collection Trust

Pat Farrell Freelance Artist, The Whitworth
Mark Miller Circuit: National Lead and Convenor, Young People’s Programme, Tate Britain /Tate Modern
Roxanna Sultan WYC Intern Freelance, The Whitworth

10:50 – 11:50
The Regeneration Game
Exchange 8

How has culture-led regeneration evolved and what does it mean for the relationships museums and arts venues have with the private and public sectors? Beyond raising the profile of star architects and creating iconic buildings, what are the deeper legacies of policies that use culture to transform post-industrial cities? Has it led to genuine economic, social and cultural transformation and how can this be measured? Can the success stories be replicated elsewhere and what is the future for culture-led regeneration?

Dave Moutrey Director and Chief Executive, HOME

Clare Edwards PhD Candidate, Cultural Policy in Glasgow 1970-1989
Beatriz Garcia Director, Institute of Cultural Capital
Simon Green Director of Cultural Services, Hull Culture & Leisure

12:00 – 13:00
Industrial Strength
Charter 1

Museums housed in former industrial buildings often interpret that history through their architecture and collections, which can include working machinery, using learning and public programmes. But they can be seen simply as recording a lost past. As the UK aspires to grow its manufacturing base and address chronic skills shortages how can we play a bigger role in getting people making things again, in a 21st century context? This session is for anyone interested in addressing key questions around museums and urban regeneration.

Francesca Perry Editor, Thinking City

Hannah Fox Project Director, Derby Silk Mill
Sally MacDonald Director, Museum of Science and Industry
Errol van der Werdt Managing Director, Foundation Mommerskwartier

12:00 – 13:00
It’s Lonely Being Right
Exchange 8

After Brexit, does it feel like some of your audience have turned their back on you? Does it hurt? Drawing on work by the Happy Museum and others, museum activists join experts from social and neuro-psychology to explore how conflicting values can create seemingly insurmountable barriers and what can be done to re-establish common ground. This participative discussion looks for the roots of our differences and paths out of the comfort of the echo chamber and into meaningful public engagement. A call to action, this session provides practical next steps.

Nat Edwards Consultant, Shared Stories in Shared Spaces

Tom Crompton Director and Co-founder, Common Cause Foundation
Alistair Hudson Director, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Kris de Meyer Film-maker and Neuroscientist, Kings College London
Esme Ward Head of Learning and Engagement, Manchester Museum and The Whitworth

14:30 – 15:00
Developing Innovative Events Programmes
Workshop Room 1

From understanding visitor intelligence data to developing creative working practices, this workshop supports museum professionals to develop more ambitious exhibition events programmes to inspire audiences. Based on the Robots exhibition at the Science Museum.

Antonio Benitez
Director, Manchester Science Festival
Scott McKenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum

15:00 – 16:00
The Constituent Museum and the End of the Audience
Exchange Auditorium

Over the past few years the L’internationale museum confederation have been developing a new institutionalism that moves beyond our inherited colonial and autonomous models and situates our work within the new realities of our times; operating politically as well as culturally within society. This requires us to develop new approaches to working with the public, to rethink the spectatorship driven conception of ‘audience’ and to build a new way of operating among the multiple networks of user groups. In this session the panel elaborate on this ‘constituency’ model in advance of the release of the L’internationale publication in early 2018.

Elinor Morgan Senior Curator, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

John Byrne Co-ordinator, The Uses of Art, Liverpool John Moores University
Aida Sanchez de Serdio Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Steven Ten Thije Project Leader, L’Internationale’s The Uses of Art, Van Abbemuseum

16:50 – 17:50
Beliefs Trump Facts
Exchange Auditorium

Powerful public figures have recently gone beyond being ‘economical with the truth’ to telling outright lies that, with repetition, become quasi-truth. It’s claimed that the public has ‘had enough of experts’. ‘Fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ swirl around us. Belief and feelings appear to trump evidence. This in-conversation session explores the very real consequences of this phenomena to millions of people who are affected by issues such as climate change. What is the role of museums in such a society and do science museums have a particular responsibility?

Sally MacDonald Director, National Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

Samira Ahmed Journalist and Broadcaster
Ian Blatchford Chair, National Museum Directors’ Council and Director, Science Museum Group
Matthew d’Ancona Writer, The Guardian

16:50 – 17:50
Legacies of Empire 
Charter 2

British culture, commerce, language and communities have been influenced by the nation’s imperial past in much the same way as the former occupied nations have been. This history, and the inequality of understanding of it, are one of the underlying issues in society today. Until Britain openly discusses its imperial past can we expect to see harmony in the multicultural society in which we live? What part can museums play in exposing the truth of their own development and that of colonial Britain? Is the 70th anniversary of partition in India the perfect opportunity to do this?

Janet Dugdale Director, Museum of Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum

Jonathan Wallis Head of Museums and Museum and Art Gallery Development, Derby Museums
Tiffany Jenkins Writer and Presenter
Yasmin Khan Freelance Museum Professional and Writer

Friday 17th November

09:30 – 10:00
Embedding Young People’s Perspectives
Workshop Room 1
This workshop shares how Harris Transformers, a youth engagement programme, has driven radical changes at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. Find out how the programme works and how the results are being embedded across the service.

Jon Finch Project Leader, Re-Imaging the Harris, Preston City Council/ Lancashire County Council
Matt Wilde Blaze Project Manager, Curious Minds

11:15 – 12:15

Queer and Here
Exchange 8

This workshop focuses on the challenges, opportunities and questions associated with the representation of LGBTQ+ identities. It takes as its starting point projects that mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain and explores the learning from different curatorial approaches. It considers contested historical identities, absences and silences in the historical record and questions of agency and unconscious bias. Build a toolkit to approach using collections more inclusively, incorporating, exploring and reflecting the LGBTQ+ experience.

Dawn Hoskin Assistant Curator, Furniture, Textiles and Fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum

Clare Barlow Assistant Curator, British Art 1750-1830, Tate Britain Stuart Frost Head of Interpretation & Volunteers, British Museum
Charlotte Keenan Curator of British Art, Walker Art Gallery
Kath Pierce Founder and Creative Director, Somewhere
Catherine O’Donnell Programme Manager, People’s History Museum

11:15 – 12:15
The Fearful Object
Charter 4

What are the implications of interpreting and displaying objects that are associated with events or activities that have the potential to upset, provoke or challenge visitors? What ethical questions do we need to be aware of and how do we tackle questions of justice? And is it possible to mobilise the sense of empathy or outrage that visitors may have to seeing the object so that it is directed in a positive direction that leads to a good outcome. Objects under discussion include a refugee’s lifejacket from Lesvos, items associated with conflict in Northern Ireland and the archive of Eric Gill, an artist who sexually abused his daughters.

Elizabeth Crooke Professor of Heritage and Museum Studies, Ulster University

Nathaniel Hepburn Director, Charleston
Bryan Sitch Deputy Head of Collections, Manchester Museum

12:25 – 13:25

Considering Mass Participation
Charter 2

We all now agree that museums are social agents with the power to change lives. But, how do we do this most effectively? Should we aspire to mass participation, focus on targeted interventions with small groups, or put the public in control through human-centred design? As the world adjusts to the political and societal changes of the last year, do we need to rethink our ambitions? Hear the views of our panel and contribute your own.

Sara Wajid Head of Interpretation, Birmingham Museums

Nick Merriman Director, Manchester Museum
Carol Rogers Executive Director, Education and Visitors, National Museums Liverpool

13:30 – 14:00
Writing Effective Briefs for Freelancers

Workshop Room 2

This workshop provides hints and tips for writing a freelance brief, common pitfalls and best practice to enable effective working relationships between freelancers and organisations.

Marge Ainsley Freelance Consultant
Lyndsey Clark Freelance Consultant

14:45 – 15:45
What Does Devolution Mean for Museums?
Charter 2

Localism is increasingly at the heart of British culture and Greater Manchester is recognised as an early adopter of the devolution agenda, with new partnerships emerging between museums and public health bodies and ambitious plans for culture across the combined authority. Speakers from outside the sector who are leading change share their insights, reflecting on the realities and opportunities of more localised decision making. How might we work more collaboratively? How might museums change as a result?

Esme Ward Head of Learning and Engagement, Manchester Museum and The Whitworth

Mike Amesbury Former Stakeholder Manager for Andy Burnham
Donna Hall Chief Executive, Wigan County Council
Paul McGarry Strategic Lead, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and Age-Friendly Manchester, Public Health Manchester

14:45 – 15:45
Three Degrees of Seperation
Charter 4

This active and participative session gives room for hundreds of questions and answers. In today’s highly connected world, the concept of six degrees of separation is more likely to be just three, often less. So there are three degrees of separation, to a person or answer, to whatever the question. We use a proven technique to generate practical and useful answers to any questions about your work, your career, your professional development and your professional dilemmas.

Sara Hilton
Director, Sara Hilton Associates

Janneke Geene
Acting Director, People’s History Museum
Gaby Porter
Director, Gaby Porter Associates
Claire Turner
Creative Cultural Consultant

14:45 – 15:45

Museums Health and Wellbeing Rsearch
Exchange 8

Not So Grim Up North is a research project led by University College London with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and The Whitworth. The research explores the health and wellbeing impact of taking part in museum activities for a diverse range of audiences: people living with dementia in hospital settings; stroke survivors; and mental health service-users. This workshop presents a framework for museums in health and wellbeing research and evaluation with diverse audiences.

Helen Chatterjee Professor of Biology, UCL Biosciences/Head of Research and Teaching, UCL Culture

Lionel Joyce Board member, Road to Recover
Nuala Morse The Whitworth and UCL Culture
Helen Rogers Acting Head of Nursing, Trafford General Hospital

Saturday 18th November

For the 2nd year in a row the MA have also arranged a number of talks and tours around organisations in Manchester on the day following the Conference so if you’re staying for the weekend do make the most of these opportunities.

For the full programme of events look here.

Museum Next Call for Papers

From Museum Next:

We’re pleased to announce the call for papers for MuseumNext Europe which will take place in London in June 2018.

MuseumNext was started a decade ago as a reaction to the disruption of the digital revolution.

In the years since we’ve had many disruptive ideas presented at the conference, from Nina Simon sharing her vision of co-producing museums with the public to Mike Murwaski challenging museums to embrace social action.

We’ve had robots, risk, rebels and revolution. But as we approach our tenth year, what’s the next disruption for museums both from the outside world and from within?

MuseumNext Europe 2018 will take place in South Kensington, London home to some of the world’s greatest museums. Our theme for this our tenth annual European conference will be ‘Disruptions’.

We’re now inviting proposals from our community on the theme ‘disruptions’. We are interested in opinions, case studies and practical approaches to the following :

Disrupted World
What are the disruptions that museums face in the next decade and how must they change to meet these challenges?

Disrupting Museums
How can we disrupt museums in a positive way from leadership to audience engagement to better achieve our missions?

Disrupted Communities
How are our communities changing and how can we act now to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world?

Disrupting Exhibitions
What will the exhibition of the future look like? Will technology or social change transform the museum going experience?

If you feel that you have something to say on one of these subject, we invite you to make a proposal to speak at MuseumNext Europe.

MuseumNext follows a fast paced format of twenty minute presentations with the focus very much on actionable ideas which can positively impact the institutions in attendance.

Proposals should be submitted through this Google Form. Any questions can be addressed to

Please note that each presentation selected will be entitled to one conference ticket only. Additional speakers will have to purchase their conference ticket at the discounted speaker rate. Speakers are responsible for their own travel and accommodation and will not receive payment for taking part.

Society for Museum Archaeology Annual Conference 2017

Thursday 2nd November – Friday 3rd November
Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

It’s not just about the archaeology – or is it?

When you work with archaeology in museums, you can end up doing a huge range of activities. Whether it be the delivery of exhibitions, engagement and events, or good old-fashioned collections management, what is the role of the modern museum archaeologist? 

This year’s conference is an opportunity to celebrate all things good…or bad…about what we do and how we do it!

For more information and to book a place click here.