Session proposal guidance notes - Museums Association

Conference 2021: Brave New World

Session proposals are assessed by a conference panel, which is made up of museum professionals and MA staff.

Please remember that this is a draft proposal and all session organisers will be asked to work with MA conference panel members to shape the final session. You might be asked to merge your session with another session if the panel feels the subject matter overlaps.

As the MA Conference is being run as a hybrid event, please remember to ensure that your session will work online and in person. And because of ongoing uncertainty over Covid, the conference might become online-only if government restrictions make running physical events impossible.


Deadline for submissions: 8 April 2021

The session proposals will be assessed by the conference panel in April. Session proposers will be told whether they have been successful or not by early May. Those who make successful proposals will have to have all their speakers/chairs confirmed by the end of May.

Theme: Brave New World

How can museums change lives in a post-pandemic world and help society respond to the many challenges it faces?

In the past year museums proved that they can be responsive, creative and resourceful. We look at how we can build on what we have learned to emerge stronger and more relevant.

We are looking for sessions that focus on:

  • How museums can survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world
  • Improving people’s health and wellbeing and providing inspiration and hope for the future
  • Tackling the urgent issues of our day, including the climate crisis, racism and discrimination
  • Using our collections and expertise to engage audiences in new ways, especially the transformational impact of digital technology

Proposed session name

This might have to be changed if your session proposal is accepted.

Outline of session

We are keen to encourage proposals that contain new thinking, innovative ideas and radical solutions. We want suggestions that are bold, provocative and thought-provoking.

The outline of your proposed session (max. 200 words) should include the content of the session, the key issues raised, and who should attend the session and why.

You can include links if relevant.

Session formats

Some common session formats are outlined below, but we are also keen to see proposals that offer new and unusual formats. Please do not feel limited by the formats below.

  • Debate: a chair/facilitator moderating a debate between two or more speakers. Works best with strong arguments and a controversial topic over which opinion in the audience and speakers is likely to be divided
  • Panel: two or more people speak in turn with a chair introducing the session and taking questions from delegates
  • In conversation: two or more speakers discuss an idea or theme with a chair leading the discussion
  • Workshop: following an introduction by one or more speakers, facilitators help delegates to work together to share experiences and ideas. In-person only format
  • Quick-fire provocation: one speaker gives a short talk exploring hot topic ideas or issues. 10 minutes maximum
  • Lightening talk: short and focused talks on a particular topic delivered by one person. 10 minutes maximum
  • In Practice session: we are looking for practical, insightful and case study-led content. In Practice sessions are an opportunity for companies, consultants and museum professionals to showcase recent projects, products or services, and lead discussion in a specific area of expertise. In Practice sessions are 30 minutes long and have one or two speakers


The speakers and chair do not have to be confirmed, but it is vital that you approach all the people you are considering to check that they can speak in principle.

When there are two or more speakers, sessions with a range of speakers from different organisations are preferable.

We are keen to see sessions with speakers from outside the sector.

No session should have more than three speakers, plus a chair. Chairs should not be speakers as well.

Session proposals are more likely to be successful if:

  • The subject is relevant, timely and important
  • The session is highlighting something new, innovative and ambitious
  • The format encourages debate and active participation among delegates
  • The topic will be of interest to a wide range of delegates
  • The speakers are inspiring, informative and engaging

Conference places

Chairs and speakers get a free place at conference on the day they are speaking. We do not pay travel or accommodation costs. Session proposers do not get free places unless they are a chair or speaker.

As this is a hybrid event, it is likely that some sessions will be delivered online – speakers delivering these sessions will not need to travel to Liverpool and will get a free place for the online conference on the day that they are speaking.

More information

Please email Simon Stephens, Head of Publications and Events, Museums Association, if you have any further questions about submitting a session proposal: