The policy column

Sharon Heal, Issue 117/11, p17, 01.11.2017
Responding to the challenges
I was discussing this year’s Museums Association’s (MA) Conference with colleagues recently and we got to thinking about everything that has happened in the past year.

It is fair to say that the 12 months since our Glasgow conference have been tumultuous. Last year, we talked about global issues such as Brexit and the looming presidential election in the US, as well thinking about the big topics that we still need to tackle as a sector including diversity, social impact, censorship, ethics and funding.

Scroll forward 12 months and so much has changed (and so much stays the same).

Inequality, racism, xenophobia and sexism stalk society, communities and individuals – and museums are not immune from these troubles. 

What is heartening is how museums are responding to the challenges. From grassroots networks such as Museum Detox and new institutions such as the Museum of Homelessness to the day-to-day work to enhance health and wellbeing and promote discussion and debate, museums and those that work in and with them are being brave and facing up to the difficult issues in society.

Going into this month’s conference in Manchester, we need to understand the context around us. More than anything, we need to be sure of our values, to steer us through the uncertain times ahead.

For the MA that means continuing to support our members and the sector, and being true to our mission and vision: inspiring museums to change lives.

Sharon Heal is the director of the Museums Association

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