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.

Read More


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.

Read More


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:

Read More


Applying the Bechdel Test in museums

I recently shared an article on Twitter, ‘The Boleyns and the Bechdel Test’ about two costumed interpreters’ efforts to create heritage interpretation  at Historic Royal Palaces which would pass the Bechdel Test.

Read More


Let’s push things forward

When I started this blog almost a year ago, it was because I wanted to push myself. I was working in a national museum in a junior role where I learnt a lot about the practicalities of collections management, but didn’t feel stretched, and didn’t feel like I was flexing all the muscles I developed during my Museum Studies MA. I was facing a lot of challenges and frustrations when it came to pursuing the next stage of my career, and was keenly aware of the parallel challenges and frustrations facing the museum sector. I had  a lot of ideas and didn’t feel like I had an outlet for them, so I started Acid Free.

Read More