A day in Leeds – preparing for the Museums Association Conference 2024

Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

In 2024 the ITP team will be inviting five ITP Fellows to join us between 9 – 17 November 2024 at the Museums Association (MA) conference and exhibition, Leeds.

The conference will take place on 12-14 November 2024 at the Royal Armouries Museum https://royalarmouries.org/ and last month I had the opportunity to travel to Leeds to visit the Museum in preparation for our trip later in the year.

The National Museum of Arms and Armour, Royal Armouries is Britain’s oldest public museum and traces its roots to the Tower of London.

The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is one of three sites that houses the national museum of arms and armour alongside the Tower of London – where some of the most important objects in the Royal Armouries collection are showcased within the White Tower – and Fort Nelson near Portsmouth. It is the also the only UK museum to have a permanent presence in the US at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

At Royal Armouries Museum Leeds you can explore thousands of incredible objects, from Japanese samurai to iconic movie props, from Henry VIII’s armour to an Indian war elephant.  Through its collections, audiences can discover how arms and armour have shaped history, society, art and culture.

Photograph of an Indian War Elephant on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds

The collection is spread over five floors of fascinating stories and interpretation including the Tournament Gallery, the War Gallery, the Asian and African Gallery and the Self-Defence Gallery.  Central to the displays is the incredible Hall of Steel, a magnificent staircase adorned with 2,500 objects arranged in an impressive display to show how items from the collection would have been exhibited at the Tower of London in the 17th century.

When I visited one of the Museum’s temporary exhibitions was RE:LOADED https://royalarmouries.org/leeds/whats-on/reloaded which told the story of the Royal Armouries’ collection of firearms in an entirely new and creative way.  Throughout history to the present day, guns have been embellished and decorated; plated in gold and covered with diamonds and the exhibition asks the challenging question ‘why do we attempt to beautify such potentially deadly weapons’?

This fascinating temporary exhibition asks visitors to reconsider the symbolism of guns from deadly weapons to aesthetic objects of art which have been used to campaign for peace, as tokens of love and desire, and as diplomatic gifts between nations.

Photograph of a chair made from guns.

This year’s MA conference will focus on The Joy of Museums and is celebrating the innovation, inventiveness and creativity that make our museums such incredible places.  There will also be the opportunity to spend time at museums, galleries and heritage sites in and around Leeds with additional programming focused around our participants specific areas of interest.

If you would like to join us in Leeds later this year, please send us your application by midday on Friday 24 May 2024.  We’ll be looking forward to introducing you to a new city with a fantastic range of museums, galleries and heritage sites.

7 fellows photographed at the museums association conference 2023