As Director of ALACS it was my great pleasure to be invited to Chair the annual peer review conference of the Paul Hamlyn-funded “Our Museum” project. The conference took place in Bristol and ran very smoothly thanks to the organisational skills of the project Director Piotr Bienkowski and Gurdeep Thiara (the power behind the throne…).
The project aims to, over a three year period, change the organisational (and perhaps also philosophical) culture in 8 museums (large and small) from across the UK, with the aim of making them more responsive to, and inclusive of, their communities.
It is a bold project. Not an easy one to deliver but with huge implications for the future of all museums.
Who was it who said “If you love someone, set them free”. I think it was David Cameron. Or Sting. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that one of the key themes that emerged was one of “letting go”. Museums letting go of their instinctive desire to protect and collect. Letting go of their belief that they, and only they, know what is best for their communities.
It was a fascinating conference, greatly enhanced by my superb chairing and timekeeping skills (!) which were aided by the proflagate use of a WWII air raid warden’s rattle from Belfast (ah, how delegates thrilled at it’s harshly wooden ululations. Not!).
Is Our Museum the future of ALL museums?