Diversity and inclusion strategies to be explored at Museums + Heritage Show

A look at some of the sessions at Museums + Heritage Show 2024 which focus on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility strategies for cultural organisations.

Effective efforts to improve inclusion, both internally and externally, require the continued investment of time, understanding, and the formalisation of new strategies.

At this year’s Museums + Heritage Show, a series of sessions centering on diversity and inclusion will assist organisations in doing just that.

Topics at the free, two day event span the navigation of power dynamics and inequalities across cultural organisations, developing transgender-inclusive policies and programming, modern accessibility measures, and more.

The Museums + Heritage Show is packed with talks from sector leaders, demonstrations from a wealth of exhibitors and plenty of opportunity to catch-up and network with fellow attendees. More than 60 sessions and 90 speakers make up this year’s event.

On the topic of diversity, a session by Pawlet Brookes, MBE, the founder,CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage and Naomi Korn, Founder and CEO of Naomi Korn Associates will examine how copyright and licensing are enacted within the often-complex power dynamics existing between cultural heritage organisations and the third parties with whom they work. It will identify imbalances that might exist and suggest next steps to better support positions on equality, diversity, and inclusion. Copyright and rights management: navigating power dynamics and inequalities across cultural organisations takes place on Wednesday 15 May 2024.

Also taking place on Wednesday is Who Cares? Understanding empathy and trauma in museums, a session led by Sandra Shakespeare from Museum X CIC and filmmaker Ashton John, M.A., who will be screening ‘To whom does this belong?’. The collaborative short film explores Cornish Black History through local archives and museum collections. The pair will discuss their discoveries, the links to slavery and whether those artefacts should be on display at museums.

In Modern accessibility in a Medieval setting, Dr Ashley Fisher, Community Engagement Supervisor and Philip Roebuck, Exhibitions Executive at York Archaeology Attractions will lead a session about changing attitudes towards accessibility through the centuries, and how the latest exhibition at Barley Hall in York combines a medieval setting with modern accessibility measures.

Spencer Clark, Managing Director at ATS and Steve Dering, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Direct Access Consultancy will also explore best practice examples of accessibility, focussion on the heritage sector and how to improve accessibility for those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, for people with sight impairments and for those with physical needs. In Breaking down barriers: essential accessibility tips for visitor attractions, the speakers will also provide practical advice on how to get started on different budgets.

The Trans-inclusive culture session will explore practical strategies for taking forward trans-inclusion in their organisations. The session will be held by E-J Scott from the Museum of Transology and University of the Arts London, and Suzanne MacLeod, Richard Sandell, Cesare Cuzzola, and Sarah Plumb, from ​​RCMG.

On Wednesday, 15 May, hear from the Museum Detox panellists about how seeking out diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences in leadership positions will help foster innovation, creativity and the building of trust and legitimacy across organisations and the broader community. Towards inclusive governance will be held by Sara Wajid, Co-CEO of Birmingham Museums Trust, Jeannette Plummer Sires, Trustee Board Member of the Council for British Archaeology and Esther Lisk-Carew, Trustee of Portico Library.

On Thursday 16 May, explore the future of museum and heritage learning with GEM (Group for Education in Museums and Heritage Education Trust). Explored in The future of museum & heritage learning will be the sector priorities, support for museum practitioners and insights from GEM’s new research about the needs of the sector with a focus on inclusion and diversity. It will be led by Rachel Tranter MBE, GEM Director, Kara Wescombe Blackman, GEM Consultant and Course Director and Rachel Moss, Freelance Practitioner & GEM Consultant.

An Informal networking session, ‘Learning from the best’ and hosted by GEM will follow the session on Thursday, which is open to anyone interested in responsible for or interested in increasing inclusion within their organisation.

Another of the information networking sessions, ‘A sector for everyone’ will be hosted by Museum Detox and Queer Heritage and Collections Network; a a safe supportive space to chat, network and build connections.

To gain access to these sessions for free, plus more than 50 more at this year’s Museums + Heritage Show in London, simply register for free admission here.