Staff Talk: Adult Programmes

Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme Assistant

Last week’s staff talk at the Museum focused on the Adult Programme. Freddie Matthews (Head of Adult Programmes), Hilary Williams (Education Officer: Art History) and Bryony Smith (Events Manager: Adult Programmes) discussed the aims of their programme and presented some of its recent activities.


The British Museum’s Adult Programme has diversified over time from a focus on small group ‘lifelong learning’ short courses to a wide-ranging programme that includes gallery talks, film screenings, practical workshops, access programming, ESOL, lectures and panel discussions, university partnerships, music events, performances and more.

The team targets first-time attendees, unplanned event attendees and communities with an interest in a particular exhibition or strand of programming, as well as members, academics and other established audiences. They seek to offer a balanced representation of the entire Museum collection through the activities programmed.

Aims of the Adult Programme:

Engage the broadest definition of the public on site with the Museum’s collection, exhibitions, curatorial research and surrounding cultural issues
Showcase the Museum as a place of research excellence through specialist lectures, study days and talks
Inspire visitors with a programme that caters to multiple learning styles
Facilitate meaningful audience interactions through accessible, diverse and inclusive event strands
Educate audiences with programmes that have a culture of learning embedded at their core

Alexis Blake, Conditions of an Ideal, 2016. Photo- Arron Leppard

Alexis Blake, Conditions of an Ideal, 2016. Photo – Arron Leppard

Some of the interesting recent and upcoming initiatives:

-Introduction of foreign language gallery talks
On 7 December, Huilei Qiu of Shanghai Museum will be giving a talk in Mandarin on Sculptures of the Parthenon Frieze

-Interfaith music performances from Faiths in Tune
The next event, on 3 December, is inspired by the upcoming BM exhibition Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond and the theme ‘light and fire’

-Europe and the World
On the weekend of 25-26 November, there will be world music in the galleries and a performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, organised with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.
This is a prelude to a wider festival of world music taking place at the Museum in April 2018

Millions of Years
A community-led flash mob performance held in the BM’s Great Court last year, in partnership with the English National Opera, on the occasion of their production of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten

Conditions of an Ideal
A choreographic performance art piece by Alexis Blake questioning historical representations of the idealised female body, performed in the Parthenon Gallery at the BM last year.