The Museums Association (MA) is a professional membership organisation for museum, gallery and heritage professionals, organisations, and companies that work in the sector. The MA aims to share knowledge, develop skills, inspire innovation, and provide leadership whilst advocating for museums, setting ethical standards and running training and professional development programmes.
The Museums Association Conference and Exhibition is held annually and is the largest event for museum and heritage professionals in Europe. Each year the International Training Programme organise a week-long programme structured around the MA annual conference.
By attending the MA Conference and Exhibition we aim to offer our ITP fellows further platforms to network and gain knowledge beyond what is traditionally offered through the Summer Programme. Our aim is for fellows to attend a new range of skills-building sessions, to hear from colleagues globally about current practices and projects, to engage in debates around the future of museums and their audiences, and to create networks that may be outside our usual remit.
In November 2016 five ITP fellows from India, Kenya, Nigeria and Palestine, attended the Museums Association Conference & Exhibition hosted in Glasgow, a city with a strong museum culture and home to one of our ITP partner institutions. The conference offered delegates a series of sessions focusing on the themes of People and Places: stories, communities and collections; Being Brave: courage, innovation and risk-taking; and Health and Wellbeing: impact, evidence and delivery. The fellows then travelled to Bristol for a digital exhibition workshop with Sue Giles, Senior Curator of World Cultures, Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives to develop an online exhibition, Bristol: The Bigger Picture.
In November 2017 four ITP fellows from India, Kenya, Palestine and South Africa joined us in Manchester for the MA conference Display, audiences and engagement. From 14–16 November the fellows took part in sessions which covered topics such as the role museums can play in healing some of society’s divisions, how collections can be used to inspire and engage communities and make a difference to people’s lives, and what the museum professional of the future will look like (and what knowledge and experience they will need). Generously supported by our UK Partner Museums, the fellows also took part in a two-day programme with colleagues at Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester museum and the People’s History Museum.
In November 2018 five ITP fellows from Egypt, India, Kenya, Lesotho and Turkey joined us in Belfast for the MA conference, Dissent: inspiring hope, embracing change. From 5–7 November they took part in a tailored programme of visits to museums, galleries and heritage sites in and around Belfast, organised with National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI).
The week included the opportunity to meet staff and see behind the scenes of NMNI spending time in their three sites, which reflect the creativity, innovation, history, culture and people of Northern Ireland and beyond. From 8–10 November the fellows attended the Museums Association Conference and Exhibition, which focussed on having the courage to challenge traditional thinking, promoting positive social change and transforming museums and society.
In October 2019 six ITP fellows from Armenia, China, Egypt, India, Nepal and Malaysia joined us in Brighton for the MA conference which focused on Sustainable and Ethical Museums in a Globalised World. Sessions and workshops examined museums’ roles in a changing world and in addressing challenging issues being faced globally. This included thinking about social and political upheaval, demographic changes, rising inequalities and climate change. From 30 September to 2 October the fellows took part in a tailored programme of visits to the Weald and Downland Living Museum and the National Trust property Polesden Lacey followed by the Museums Association Conference and Exhibition from 3–5 October.
In November 2022 5 ITP fellows from Armenia, Egypt, Romania, Rwanda and Uzbekistan joined us in Edinburgh for the MA conference. The theme of the 2022 conference was Make Change Happen: how can museums create better places to live and work n a post-Covid world and how museums need to tackle a number of crucial issues, including the climate crisis, inequalities and racism, the legacy of empire and wellbeing.
The fellows also met colleagues at V&A Dundee, University of Aberdeen Museums and Special Collections, and National Museums of Scotland as part of their programme.