Taking stock on leaving St Albans, or: From Site Staff to Consultant

Last week I left my job as Audience Development Manager for St Albans Museums Service to join Jura Consultants as a Senior Consultant.  The change has prompted a few reflections, not the least around what it means to me to go from being a site-based member of staff to becoming a consultant. There are a … Continue reading Taking stock on leaving St Albans, or: From Site Staff to Consultant

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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

Interpretation Needs More Self-Criticism

I know I keep writing about how we need more research and critical self-analysis in interpretation.  But when I recently read Dr Bernadette Lynch’s report ‘Whose Cake is it Anyway?’ (2009) and Skibins, Powell and Stern’s 2012 ‘Exploring empirical support for interpretation's best practices’ I didn’t feel validated.  I felt depressed. Lynch researched ‘the real … Continue reading Interpretation Needs More Self-Criticism

Science and Heritage: An Uncomfortable mix…for some

Last week, UK’s Channel 4 aired a documentary about an archaeological dig in search of Richard III.  I found the show really illuminating.  Not because of its intended content – I actually thought the way they presented everything was neither here (archaeology) nor there (history). No, what I found fascinating was what the documentary revealed, … Continue reading Science and Heritage: An Uncomfortable mix…for some

Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions

Last week I attended an excellent workshop on ‘Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions’.  Co-production is a central theme in museums at the moment, and participants were encouraged to bring their own experiences of co-production to the workshop for discussion.  I came away with a few good points to ponder, which you might find interesting as … Continue reading Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions

A Truly Democratic Model for Interpretation

Last week, I had a meeting with our Interpretation Stakeholder Group.  We discussed the interpretive vision for a project to relocate and redevelop one of our museums.  And what an interesting discussion it was!  As always, the most inspiring comments came from people who aren’t interpreters. The first thing that struck me was just how … Continue reading A Truly Democratic Model for Interpretation

Involving stakeholders in interpretation, Or: policy aspiration and practice challenges

Next week sees the For Them and By Them: Involving Stakeholders and Communities in Interpretation conference take place, which I initiated.  I am no longer able to be at the conference myself, so I thought I’d share here what I was going to talk about there [1]. It is really quite astonishing to see just … Continue reading Involving stakeholders in interpretation, Or: policy aspiration and practice challenges

A View from the Outside: The Arts Council’s Review of Museum Research

I have recently read the Arts Council England ‘Review of Research and Literature on Museums and Libraries’, compiled in September last year just before the Arts Council took over the responsibilities of the now-disbanded Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.  The review was part of an endeavour to ‘understand the needs and priorities of the sectors’ … Continue reading A View from the Outside: The Arts Council’s Review of Museum Research

Good-bye Bedwellty, Or: What I’ve learnt in my last job

Tomorrow I will start in my new job and I thought that’s a good time to reflect on what I learnt in my last role.  So here we go, in no particular order:   It’s key to understand the heritage values I started with a deeply felt commitment to inclusive significance assessments.  What this job … Continue reading Good-bye Bedwellty, Or: What I’ve learnt in my last job

Interpretation is…Learning Humility

For the stakeholder engagement conference I’m organising at my current site in September, I invited a member of the community to give the closing presentation.  I was very keen to ensure it isn’t just the ‘professionals’ talking about involving stakeholders and communities in interpretation, and reporting how well – or not – this worked.  I … Continue reading Interpretation is…Learning Humility