Museum Ideas Conference 2017

Rebecca Horton and Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme

Yesterday, we attended the 2017 Museum Ideas conference at the Museum of London, organised by independent think tank Museum-iD. The conference aims to challenge speakers to share innovative ideas in concise (20 minute), powerful talks, and give delegates fresh perspectives from people outside their specialism and locality.

London museums that gave presentations were the Natural History Museum, National Maritime Museum and the Wellcome Collection. Representatives from Birmingham Museums also presented.

International speakers hailed from:
District Six Museum, Cape Town
Museum of the City of New York
SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen
M+ Museum, Hong Kong
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Habemus, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

See the full list of presentation topics here.

Jessica’s highlights

Bonita Bennett, Director of District Six Museum, Cape Town spoke about the right to remember and the power of remembering. She argued that the creation of monuments feels like a definitive act of closure that prevents further, deeper discussion of painful memories, whereas creating repeated rituals involving the body moving through space can be much more powerful. She spoke about activities that the museum takes part in outside of its physical space, bringing memory into the streets (or once-streets).

IMG_7917Rebecca Bridgman and Rachael Minott of Birmingham Museums talked about attempts to ‘decolonise curation’ at their museum through co-curation with the local community of an upcoming exhibition, Birmingham and the British Empire. They reminded us that the founding of their museum and its collection was supported by an industrialisation that is irrevocably connected to a colonial past, and suggested that this kind of ‘decolonising’ project is the remit of almost all UK museums, no matter the focus of their collections.

Becca’s highlights

Winnie Lai came from M+ Museum Hong Kong, a Museum of Visual Culture to open in 2019. Winnie talked about M+ Rover, a project to combat a big problem: without a physical space it is difficult for audiences to know what M+ is.  M+  Rover is a traveling creative studio and exhibition space, designed by artists and to be shared with schools and communities in Hong Kong.  Artists work with M+ to design imaginative spaces to facilitate young adults taking the time to be creative, listen to one another and explore new ways of thinking.

Similarly, Rosalind Croker and Joanna Salter from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (NMM) use the Maritime Memories Machine to engage with communities across the UK. The Maritime Memory Machine is an ice cream van converted into a fun space for everyone and anyone to drop in and share their stories about the sea. The stories recorded and memories written down from this Summer’s trip will find a home in the 2018 Sea Things gallery at NMM. Both projects demonstrate how outreach can greatly increase a museum’s reach and impact.