Tributes paid following death of Mark Suggitt

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 16.01.2019
Colleagues celebrate Suggitt’s contribution to museums
Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to museum professional Mark Suggitt following his death last week.

Mark was the director of Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site until 2017. Prior to that he was head of Bradford Museums, Galleries and Heritage. He spent seven years as the director of St Albans Museums, where he oversaw the extension the Verulanium Museum.

Mark started his museum career in 1979 as assistant keeper of social history at Salford Museums and Art Galleries. He also worked at York Castle Museum and Yorkshire and Humberside Museums Council.

Mark had a longstanding connection to the Museums Association (MA). He was a Fellow of the Museums Association (FMA) and a mentor in the Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA) scheme. He also wrote numerous articles and reviews for Museums Journal.

The MA’s director, Sharon Heal, said: “Mark was a grounded and collaborative leader who was always willing to share his experience and expertise. As an AMA mentor, he guided many people on their professional development journeys, selflessly supporting individual and sector development. He will be greatly missed.”

Tamsin Russell, the MA’s professional development officer, said: “Mark was a Fellow of the Museums Association, role-modelling excellence, commitment and expertise in line with our values and ethical practice. He was also a committed mentor to our AMA scheme and his talent and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”

Speaking on behalf of Mark’s friends and colleagues, fellow museum professional Sue Underwood said: “How do you summarise 40 years of friendship, dating from our meeting at Leicester University in September 1978? Mark was clearly going to succeed in museums with his passion for design, research and telling stories, and along with his wife Helena they were a tour de force. 

“I speak for many in remembering 40 years which included energetic debates, laughter till we cried, visits to museums (and of course their cafes), but most of all, pride and respect in all Mark delivered.

“His professionalism and friendship went hand in hand, and I and my family, together with many friends and colleagues, were lucky to be part of his life.”

A statement from the Suggitt family said: “We are sad to announce that Mark Suggitt died suddenly, but peacefully, on January 11th at the age of 62. Funeral arrangements will be made available via Joseph Geldart & Sons Tel: 0113 2582134.”

Mark's writing for Museums Journal



Comments

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18.01.2019, 21:18
If memory serves, it was 9 July 1979 that Mark and I both began our respective museum careers at Salford Museums & Art Galleries and it was also the day that our great friendship began. Despite our work later taking us in very different directions, this relationship continued to shine undimmed for almost forty years until it was so very tragically cut short last week. Mark was not only a brilliant social historian, but also a warm, generous and charismatic individual, who touched so many of us in both his professional and personal life. He was an obvious choice to be the ‘best man’ at my wedding in 1985, when he (not surprisingly) delivered an amazing, witty and thoroughly unforgettable ‘best man’s speech’. As Sue Underwood has already expressed so well, trying to summarise all his achievements is, quite simply, impossible. He was and – through the legacy of all that he has left us – still is one of the greatest museum professionals of his generation. Whilst I shall treasure many wonderful memories of Mark for the rest of my life, my thoughts and condolences extend to all his family, colleagues, associates and friends at this very sad time.
17.01.2019, 12:59
This is really sad news. Mark was a great role model for social historians - as Oliver says, he was a keen supporter of the SHCG and a really strong and innovative voice for new ways of collecting and working when social history was beginning to shift museum practice. He was one of my AMA practical examiners - and certainly tested my knowledge of design history to (and beyond) its limits...
17.01.2019, 12:59
This is really sad news. Mark was a great role model for social historians - as Oliver says, he was a keen supporter of the SHCG and a really strong and innovative voice for new ways of collecting and working when social history was beginning to shift museum practice. He was one of my AMA practical examiners - and certainly tested my knowledge of design history to (and beyond) its limits...
17.01.2019, 12:51
Feeling quite devastated about this. Have known Mark really well as a thoughtful colleague and good friend since the 1980s when we all got excited about contemporary collecting through SHCG and MPG. Julia and I will both miss him terribly as do all his friends, and the museum and heritage world has lost a creative thinker who was especially passionate about design history and good presentation. He has gone far too soon.
17.01.2019, 12:36
I am most sorry to learn of Mark's untimely death.