Directors In Conversation: Reyahn King, Chief Executive, York Museums Trust; Simon Wallis, Director, Hepworth Wakefield; Helen Ghosh, director general, National Trust

MA reveals conference speaker line-up

Simon Stephens, 10.07.2017
Come and join the discussions
This year’s Museums Association Conference & Exhibition in Manchester (16-18 November) includes two in conversation sessions where sector leaders will discuss how museums and galleries can rise to the challenge of engaging new audiences in the context of tight financial constraints cuts and a rapidly changing political landscape.

Directors In Conversation features Reyahn King, the chief executive of York Museums Trust, who is a member of the Museums Taskforce, which was convened by the MA last year to investigate opportunities and challenges to UK museums.

King is joined by Helen Ghosh, the director general of the National Trust, and Simon Wallis, the director of Hepworth Wakefield, which has just won the £100,000 Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017. 

In winning the award, Wallis pointed to the importance of support from his local council in the development and ongoing success of Hepworth Wakefield. 

“We've benefitted from a close working relationship with a local authority that thoroughly understands and supports the value and power of culture in transforming the quality of people's lives in the Wakefield district,” Wallis said.

Funders In Conversation will feature four funding organisations that support museums across the UK. The speakers are Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar; Ros Kerslake, the chief executive of Heritage Lottery Fund; Caroline Mason, the chief executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; and Moira Sinclair, the chief executive of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The funders discuss their ideas for the future of the sector and how they see their own organisations developing.

Other highlights include Strategies for Success, which will look at the Museums Review, which is due to be published by Department for Culture, Media and Sport just before conference. Speakers include MA director Sharon Heal and the chair of the Museums Taskforce, Laura Pye, who is the director of Bristol Museums, as well as Ian Blatchford, the director of the Science Museum Group, and the chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council.

Another session will look at some of the ways that museums are making money from their key assets and how this might develop in the future. The speakers are Eleanor Harris, director, visitor experiences and enterprise, Royal Museums Greenwich; Neil Curtis, head of museums, University of Aberdeen; and Steve Miller, director, Norfolk Museums Service.

There is also a strong focus on the museums workforce, reflecting the MA’s relaunch of its workforce offer at conference. Sessions include an exploration of the success of diversity schemes in museums and whether they have a lasting impact on organisational change. The chair is Sana Ikram, outcomes coordinator at the Prince’s Trust, and the speakers are Catherine Cartmell, skills development manager, Museums, Galleries Scotland; Shaz Hussain, collections assistant, Royal Air Force Museum; and Elizabeth Scott, head, Guildhall Art Gallery and London’s Roman Amphitheatre.

Delegates will also hear about the My Primary School is at the Museum project and how museums can become an integral part of children’s learning. The chair is Heather King from King’s College London and speakers include Nia Williams, the head of learning, participation and interpretation at Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales).

A session on youth participation has speakers from the Royal Collection Trust and the Whitworth art gallery, as well as Mark Miller, the national lead and convenor of Circuit, Tate’s young people’s programme.

Other speakers include Historic Royal Palaces curator Lucy Worsley and film-maker Martin Smith, who will discuss what museums can learn from television.

Digital sessions at conference include a discussion about how museums can embed digital practice in their work. This is chaired by Mike Ellis of Thirty8Digital, and features digital consultant Charlotte Sexton and John Coburn from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

A second digital session, chaired by Science Museum digital director John Stack, looks at the future of online collections. The speakers include Adrian Hine from the Science Museum and Natalie Milor from the National Galleries of Scotland.

Among the many other sessions are ones looking at how deaf and disabled people have been reinterpreting collections; the future of museum volunteering; developing successful membership schemes; engaging refugees; and how museums can work with artists.

Links and downloads

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