The policy column

David Anderson, Issue 115/02, p15, 02.02.2015
Northern Ireland in focus
Northern Ireland is under-represented in the membership of the Museums Association (MA), although there are good reasons for this.

The MA – like other UK-wide sector bodies – has been perceived as a London-centric organisation, without a developed understanding of Northern Ireland and its distinctive cultures and policies.

Britain and Ireland are divided by a sea, making sustained communication more difficult. And many professionals in Northern Ireland look beyond the UK to the rest of Europe and North America for interesting museum practice.

In 2012, the board of the MA resolved that, as a UK-wide organisation that is democratically accountable to its members, it should become more representative of all four nations of the UK.

Through the network of members’ representatives, and members’ meetings and other events, as well as successful conferences in Edinburgh (2012), Liverpool (2013) and Cardiff (2014), the MA has made progress towards achieving this goal in Scotland and Wales, as well as the English regions.

Museums across the UK would be enriched by greater contact with Northern Ireland’s innovative museum practice, such as its programmes for cultural participation in a divided community.

This year, the MA will ask museum professionals in Northern Ireland how we can most effectively support them. We will ensure that there is full coverage of Northern Ireland in Museums Journal, Museum Practice and on the website.

We will also investigate the feasibility of bringing the conference to Northern Ireland.

David Anderson is the president of the Museums Association