Handing over Power, or: Diversity in the Heritage Sector

At the start of November, the UK Art Fund published a report on diversity in the arts and heritage sectors. Specifically, the report reviews the impact of diversity initiatives on curatorial roles since 1998. However, it also makes important observations on how the current structure of museums may stand in the way of diversity – … Continue reading Handing over Power, or: Diversity in the Heritage Sector

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Silence is not neutral, and objectivity does not exist

Last month, I presented [1] a paper at the Re-Imagining Challenging History conference in Cardiff, Wales. It combined and developed two of the key things I’ve written about a lot on this blog recently: that museums’ silence is never neutral, and that objectivity, as an expression of ‘truth’ (including a ‘material’ truth), does not exist. … Continue reading Silence is not neutral, and objectivity does not exist

The uses of audience research

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference on ‘Understanding Museums’ in Germany. It was about researching museums and researching audiences, with a particular focus on new and innovative methods [1]. In the final plenary session, the organiser for the museum research aspect of the conference expressed his hope that the focus on researching audiences … Continue reading The uses of audience research

Integration goes both ways: Current practice in Germany

I am really intrigued by how German cultural institutions, including museums, appear to be contributing to the efforts of integrating refugees into German civic society. This announcement of an upcoming exhibition about 14 projects in Berlin notes what seems to be a conscious shift away from narrowly focusing on refugees’ stories toward integrative projects that … Continue reading Integration goes both ways: Current practice in Germany

The German MA’s Recommendations for Representing Migration

A couple of weeks ago, the German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund) published recommendations for museums on how to include and represent migration and cultural diversity in their work. I was really impressed by two key concepts that frame the entire document: Migration is the Norm This is a fact that is evident when we burst … Continue reading The German MA’s Recommendations for Representing Migration

Have museums already become irrelevant?

In her latest blog post ‘Following up on Ferguson’, Gretchen Jennings mentions that several museum people told her that they had been specifically forbidden from answering visitor questions or commenting on social media about Ferguson [1]. Having worked in local authority museums in the UK and knowing from my work here as a consultant the … Continue reading Have museums already become irrelevant?

Qualified Teacher Status: A Requirement for Museum Educators?

In a piece on The Conversation UK earlier this month, Jacqueline Baxter of The Open University argues that all teachers should have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) [1]. Her piece reminded me of the fact that in many museums, QTS is the required qualification for museum educators – the people that deliver the programmes for schools. … Continue reading Qualified Teacher Status: A Requirement for Museum Educators?

The moral obligation of interpretation

In Britain, we’re experiencing interesting social and political times at the moment [1], which raises the question again what role museums, heritage sites and by extension, interpretation should play in response to this [2] – if any. I’ve argued previously that it is a dangerous myth to think especially of museums as apolitical spaces – … Continue reading The moral obligation of interpretation

Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?

I’ve recently read English Heritage’s consultation on under-represented heritages [1] and it got me thinking, yet again, about target audiences. Here are some of the points that struck a chord with me: We don’t want [insert under-represented heritage here] sites In fact, one respondent called this idea ‘horrible’ (p. 10).  In other words, they didn’t … Continue reading Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?

Community Engagement at Museums and Heritage Sites

Last week we had to cancel a training day on community engagement because of low uptake [1].  The training co-ordinator suggested that community engagement may still not be seen to be important to the work of museums.  He may be right, but I very much hope he isn’t.  After all, there is, and has been … Continue reading Community Engagement at Museums and Heritage Sites