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Age Friendly Museums 

This week I attended a free conference held by the Age Friendly Museum Network at the British Museum. Although I’m not involved in any projects working specifically with older visitors, and my current workplace mostly attracts a younger family audience, I was interested to find out about this topic as it is one that is little discussed in terms of audience development and diversity in museums. I was delighted to find that Scriberia were on hand to record the conference, and my snaps of their fantastic illustrations provide the images for this post. 

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Slow Museums


As a counterpoint to my last post about responding to current events, and the post I wrote for Registrar Trek recently about rapid response collecting, today I am thinking about the benefits for museums of being slow. 

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Response & Responsibility: Museums, Twitter & Trump

This post is an ironically slow response to a session at the 2016 Museums Association conference, entitled ‘Rapid Response’. I wasn’t at the conference, although I followed along through social media and the live streams where I could. The reason I’m responding to some of the ideas in the session now is that I attended a Museums Association South East members meeting this week, and conference recaps formed part of the discussion. I’m not the only one revisiting this particular session either, as Tonya Nelson in January’s Museums Journal also revisits its themes in her column ‘We need to respond to the world around us’. Both these discussions and Nelson’s piece reflect on the idea that museums could operate more like newsrooms, reacting rapidly to current events, but also offering thoughtful and well researched analysis of subjects in the way that long-form journalism has traditionally done, but that in the age of 24 hour online news is becoming less common.

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It’s the econom(ic inequalit)y, stupid

I have been toying with the idea of writing a post on class for some time (in fact for most of the time this blog had been sitting dormant I have been periodically writing and abandoning drafts of this post. I have been spurred to action by this week’s #MuseumHour, which skilled over from its allotted 8-9pm schedule and had museum tweeters in heated debates for most of Monday evening. I have a lot of thoughts which I found hard to express in a tweet.

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What’s your specialism?

So Neil MacGregor is concerned about the ‘erosion of curatorial strength’ in regional museums. As funding cuts bite and staff numbers in smaller museums decrease, there is an inevitable corresponding decrease in the number of traditionally specialist curatorial staff. MacGregor, speaking to a select committee as part of the Countries of Culture Inquiry, highlights the knock-on effect this has for the work of local museums, and how national museums can help. There is the suggestion in MacGregor’s answers to the committee that small museums will be unable to take full advantage of opportunities such as loans from the BM because of a lack a curatorial knowledge about which objects to make use of, and a lack of knowledge about objects in the museum’s own collections. While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, it is more likely the lack of time available for research, as opposed to a lack of skill or pre-existing knowledge which makes a difference. As MacGregor goes on to acknowledge this comes back down to lack of funding, demands on staff time and therefore a lack of opportunities for small museums to do the work they would like to be doing:

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