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Museums + Heritage Advisor
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The final edit: looking back on two years of change

Main image: © Agence photographique du musée Rodin - Jérome Manoukian

In 2016, during his final address from the prime ministerial despatch box, David Cameron said: “I was the future once”, evoking a jibe he had made at Tony Blair several years earlier. In this, my farewell blogpost, I will be doing all I can to be as unlike either former PM as possible – just as I do in everyday life.

My stint with M+H began in earnest with a trip to London. The first of many (and yet far too few) working visits around the UK led me to an event run in conjunction with the Barbican’s AI: More than Human exhibition.

Immersed in a group of academics and industry professionals – all working at the sector’s digital vanguard – I was truly captivated by notions of where the sector was heading and, by extension, the role I had taken on.

https://museumsandheritage.com/features/artificial-intelligence-visitor-data-and-ethics-debating-the-future-of-museums/

My immediate reaction after speaking to attendees and reading around the wider topic was that certain heritage bigwigs were stubbornly unwilling to risk capital on anything perceived as futuristic. This resistance would inevitably diminish over time, I thought. With the right circumstances large-scale digital adoption could be just around the corner.

Alas, the wrong circumstances delivered the very same outcome.

Pandemic pandemonium

Accuracy has perhaps never been more important to a journalist’s output. Sustained erosion of public trust in the news media over recent years has made fair, honest copy a very valuable commodity.

It may, therefore, seem somewhat perverse that one of my absolute favourite M+H articles is erroneous to the last.

After ushering in 2020 with the abandon of someone joyously unaware of what was to come, I returned to work in the first week of January and published a preview of the museum and gallery openings we could all look forward to in the months ahead.

Best laid plans…

https://museumsandheritage.com/features/2020-museum-openings-a-sneak-peek-at-what-to-expect-this-year/

While I find this article entertaining to read, primarily as it seems so farcical more than 18 months on, it nevertheless stirs up a sadness that so many of the sector’s individuals and organisations have been subjected to such intense hardships over the intervening period.

Also, on a much tinier scale, it leaves the pang of personal disappointment that my time spent covering a wonderful industry has been dominated by the pandemic and its damaging impacts.

Regardless of this, I depart having met innumerable marvellous people – both in terms of their professional practice and the kind, generous, giving trait which sweeps through the heritage community – and learned a great deal along the way.

https://museumsandheritage.com/news/top-ten-favourite-articles-from-the-past-two-years/

Inspired in no small part by many of those who I have talked with and interviewed over the past two years, a return to academia is what has tempted me away from the publication.

While there are countless things I will miss about running Advisor, by far the biggest loss I must prepare for is the lack of day-to-day contact with colleagues. All of them have unfailingly managed to put a smile on my face throughout my time in the role – even in the depths of lockdown, when my biscuit addiction had reached dangerous levels.

Anna, Sara, Flip, Kelly and Becky, thank you all for being the best workmates imaginable – whether that’s been in the office or via virtual means.

The Christmas 2019 newsletter team photo | (L-R) Flip, Kelly, Anna (and Satchmo), Dave, Sara

While this post has given me the incredibly self-indulgent chance to reflect on the past, it also affords me opportunity to pass on the baton to my successor. Alistair, who will assume the role of editor upon my departure, joins the company following a spell as deputy editor of Manchester-based publication Prolific North.

I sincerely look forward to reading what comes next for the industry during his time at the helm, as the much-discussed ‘recovery’ from the pandemic hopefully continues apace.

It is on this note that I bid farewell to everyone at M+H and the sector at large. I wish each and every one of you all the success in the world – except George Osborne.