Q&A with Steph Mastoris

Geraldine Kendall, 10.10.2014
The head of the National Waterfront Museum in Wales shares his conference thoughts
What is your conference highlight so far?

The pop-up museum in the foyer of the Wales Millennium Centre is a fascinating addition to the usual conference programme. 

Its content grew and developed throughout the day and the artefacts and personal memories recorded on video or through art steadily built up a fascinating insight into the ideas of the conference delegates and a novel view of Cardiff.

Who is the best speaker you have heard, and why?

Antônio Vieira’s keynote address in portuguese of the Museu da Maré, in Rio. His energy and passion for the need to celebrate the positive life and culture of Rio’s largest favelas quickly overcame the distancing of the speaker with the audience that simultaneous translation often creates at conferences.

Although Antônio ran over his allotted time to a serious degree, the whole of the auditorium was held spellbound by his heroic account of the creation of this fascinating community museum. 

Not surprising, therefore, that Antônio got the most sustained applause of the conference so far. There was also a wonderful moment of humour when Antônio hid behind the lectern when the President approached to call time (unsuccessfully) on his presentation.

What is the most controversial opinion you have heard?

I have heard nothing really controversial, but I have heard some very memorable statements, such as:

"Museums should not be afraid of their public."

"Memory is the foundation of social wellbeing."

"Museum collections are not artefacts but ancestors."

"Soccer fans know more about getting to Cardiff than [London-based] art critics."

What is the most interesting conversation you have had, and why?

A multiple conversation with 14 other colleagues at Pieminister in Queen Street, as part of a Come Dine With Me group organised jointly with Victoria Rogers of the Cardiff Story.

Lots of catching up with some colleagues from a very long time ago, as well as getting to know some delegates new to the conference. Most important was the opportunity to discuss the conference sessions as well as sharing our common problems over pies and mash (and a few drinks!).