@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • #MuseumNext London 2019 Wrap Up

    June 7th, 2019mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Well it’s one day after I’ve been home from another brilliant MuseumNext conference – it’s the time when I feel sad for saying goodbye to the new friends I met and old friends I get to see again. The talks this year were absolutely brilliant, poignant, relevant and in some cases hard to hear (but it need to be said).

    We as a sector are going through another transitional period. A few years ago there so much excitement about the future of museums and how social/digital was being embedded into the collections. Now it’s about survival. Surviving to keep staff, surviving to understand what the public needs and make real changes that allow them to see themselves in the museum. Surviving so they are relevant in the next 10-20 years.

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    (All Tweets I did are here and All Pictures are in this Facebook album)

    And the speakers really brought meaningful presentations that were incredibly thought provoking.

    I didn’t get to the workshops/fringe event on the first day as I was helping with registration. But I did sneak out for the Digital Solution Session with Dave Pattern (Science Museum), Tim Powell (Historic Royal Palaces), Kati Price (V&A) and Catherine Devine (Microsoft).


    And we heard this quite a few times:

    The evening there were a few options to meet people before the evening reception. The next morning we all went to Royal Geographical Society for two full days of talks.

    Keynote started with Katherine Sedgwick from ACMI (Australia) who spoke about the rapid changes that are happening there (and how the fabulous Seb Chan was poached from Cooper Hewitt for his visionary thinking).


    Zak Mensah from Bristol Museums was next and while I understood his rebellious undertones it was interesting to hear that instead of getting fired with council jobs, you get promoted! I think everyone would be brave and forward thinking if that was the case! But so glad he is able to do things there and share them with MuseumNext.

    Payal Wadhwa from Idean was a great kick up the butt needed after our morning break. Participatory and making real impact is key with her work.


    The open stage was a great part of the afternoon – each speaker had 5 minutes to share and the story telling ranged from ‘Once upon a Time’ to an almost scripted banter between others.


    Another message that was mentioned a few times in different ways was about change in how museums are doing things. Not so much the staff being anti-change (although maybe I should say upper management and those that have been there for years are adverse to change but most others aren’t).


    It was absolutely brilliant to see the wonderful, honest and inspirational Esme Ward (Director of Manchester Museums) sharing. She is one of a handful of directors that are so real and themselves [see also Tony Butler (Derby Museum, UK) and Marie Chapman (Pier 21, Halifax)].

    And then last but not least on Day One was Silvia and Emily Kotecki who did an honest talk on trials of working on projects when the original scope and goals keep changing. The brilliance of their talk was it was set to music which everyone was able to relate to!


    There was a lovely evening reception at Royal Geographical Society where I overheard so many people talking about the impact of the speakers during the day and how hard some of them were to listen to as it really hit home. After we went to the pub for a DrinksThing!

    The Last day – always the hardest as we know we have to say goodbye to friends but at least we have another full day of great speakers!


    Due to saying goodbye, we were a little bit late for Keynote Sam Conniff, author of Be More Pirate but he was so empowering! Be More Pirate in how you go about asking for things at work. He was told no about putting an advert up on a building so he did it anyway and got a lot of press (then was told to take it down 😉 )


    Next up was the sweet Claire Madge who started Autism in Museums with a twitter account and blog. She has worked hard in the sector but after 2 of her 3 children were diagnosed with autism she knew she couldn’t work full time but still wanted to balance the two. She worked hard volunteering and being in the sector while balancing being a wife, mom, etc. And now Autism in Museums is so impactful to a lot of museums and she single-handedly is the force behind it!


    I didn’t get a lot of pictures of Mike Murawski’s talk as it was more a workshop where we were meeting other people around us. Interestingly one of the things we were to discuss was unique to the person I met from South Africa who said ‘this is odd as in South Africa we have addressed this issues 25 years ago!’ And it helps to be reminded that Politics / Brexit / You Know What I Mean isn’t happening everywhere.

    Really loved hearing from We Are The Curious Anna Starkey and how they were very pirate in when they did a rebrand/new opening). They are a science center but no one really knew what they did or why they were there so they went out to the public and really engaged with them before the re-opening. To give you a flavour, this is their manifesto:

    It was interesting having Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A as a keynote after lunch. He used to be a politician and I felt he was very cautious with some of his answers but credit to Jasper Visser for pulling the information out of him!

    Having said that – I do feel Tristram has been doing an excellent job at the V&A and I have told him so.

    To see the live stream:


    Excellent end with Lara Day from M+ in Hong Kong who shared how they have been building a digital museum before the actual museum opens next year. They had ideas of what they wanted and key was stories


    The day ending with people sharing their takeaways and saying goodbyes

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