MA publishes complete conference guide

Nicola Sullivan, 18.09.2016
New sessions on Brexit, and health and wellbeing
The Museums Association (MA) reveals two new conference sessions in the latest version of its guide for the MA's Annual Conference and Exhibition, which is taking place at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on 7-9 November.

Museums and Health: A Wider View will examine what museums look like from a public health perspective; the health benefits of museum attendance; and the cultural shift required to enhance museums’ health and wellbeing impact.

Chaired by Jill Miller, the director of cultural services at Glasgow Life, the session will feature presentations from Pete Seaman, the acting director at Glasgow Centre for Population Health; Mark O’Neill, the director, policy and research at Glasgow Life; and Duncan Dornan, the head of Glasgow Museums.

Another new addition to the programme is The Year Everything Changed – a session in which senior museum directors from across the UK will debate whether museums can still claim to be in touch with their public in the aftermath of Brexit.

Chaired by Nat Edwards, the assistant director, south, for National Trust for Scotland, the session will feature the following speakers: Rowan Brown, the director of the Alfred Gillett Trust, Somerset; Heledd Fychan, the corporate affairs and advocacy manager at National Museum Wales; Paddy Gilmore, the director of learning and partnership at National Museums Northern Ireland; and Iain Watson, the director, of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

“Dramatic new alignments as old political enemies find themselves circling the wagons against a population that are rejecting them as the bugbear of this new age – the metropolitan elite,” wrote Edwards in a comment piece due to be published in the November edition of Museums Journal.

“For many working in the cultural and heritage sectors, it has seemed as if they too were being driven firmly into that wagon circle – somehow out of alignment with the communities that they seek to serve.

Other highlights include a keynote by Jackie Kay, the national poet for Scotland, who will read poetry and explore the conference’s three themes: being brave, people and places, and health and wellbeing. Also delivering keynotes are Oonagh Aitken, the chief executive of Volunteering Matters, and Alexandre Fernandes from the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

In the Exhibition Hall pop-up museums will showcase work by museums and galleries working with the Esmée Fairbairn Collections fund, and a marketplace will allow delegates and visitors to meet some of the specialist museum organisations that support the sector.

MP Workshops will take place from 7-8 November in the Exhibition Hall and will be divided into the following streams:  technology and digital; audiences, learning and engagement; collections, interpretation and exhibition design; and commercial activities.

Smarter Training sessions will provide hands-on practical instruction throughout the conference on everything from using text in museums and galleries to crowdfunding and embracing Instagram.

First-time delegates can meet others in the sector at a networking breakfast on the first morning. And delegates can access the Careers Hub for advice on creating successful CVs, succeeding at interviews, and surgery sessions to find out about more about the MA’s professional development schemes.

A series of social events will give delegates the chance to see the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art and also Kelvin Hall, a new collections study centre.

And this year delegates are invited to a third day of special events and tours at sites around Glasgow including the Scottish Football Museum, the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, the Glasgow Science Centre, and the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Simon Stephens, the MA’s head of publications and events, says: “The excitement is starting to build as we get closer to the MA’s conference, which promises to be a forward-looking and dynamic event, sharing best practice and new thinking on the future of museums – whether it is about audiences, advocacy, collections, technology, funding or partnerships.

“We’re really excited to be introducing two new sessions, both of which address critical issues facing the sector.

“Glasgow is well known for its cutting edge visual arts scene and the groundbreaking approach its museums take to community engagement. While there is much to be learned from the city’s cultural offer, this conference will also draw upon ideas beyond the UK by welcoming speakers from all over the world.”

Links and downloads

Glasgow 2016: conference guide

Museums Association Conference and Exhibition 2016