Museums + Heritage Summer Series

Programme and first speakers announced for Museums + Heritage Summer Series 2021

Twelve live sessions will be held as part of a two-day Museums + Heritage Summer Series next month, following this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards’ lead in offering attendees ‘pay what you can’ tickets.

The virtual event will take place on 14th and 15th July, featuring speakers from all corners of the museums and heritage sector.

Each talk can be booked onto individually, meaning attendees can take part in any and all sessions that fit their schedule. The flexible pricing model also removes all barriers to participation.

The event will, according to a statement from organisers, “bring together industry leaders to share their experiences of projects that have demonstrated outstanding agility, creativity and guile to push boundaries amid the harshest crisis in living memory”.

What’s on?

Proceedings will begin with a session delivered by West Cheshire Museums, exploring how the pandemic drastically altered the organisation’s practices – having the inadvertent benefits of avoiding previous siloed working structures and maximising knowledge sharing across its four sites.

Smashing the silo

Following this, a panel discussion will dive into the highly-nuanced work being undertaken to ensure museum collections and exhibitions reflect the past in ways that are both sensitive and accurate.

This session features Sir Geoff Palmer, who has been charged with leading an independent expert group advising the Scottish Government on its ambition that the nation’s museums better represent the “mistakes and atrocities of the past”.

Representing the reality

The third item on the agenda brings together speakers from four organisations which have all demonstrated new and creative ways of getting the best from heritage workforces, primarily by showing employees that they are valued and free to express themselves at work.

Staff skills

Next, the burgeoning and ever-evolving world of social media is put under the microscope. Three diverse perspectives are offered up by speakers from Black Country Living Museum, Imperial War Museums and Museum of London, each of whom have blazed a trail in this field.

Social standing

Perhaps the most pertinent of all subjects after the spell everyone has endured, health and wellbeing is the focus of day one’s penultimate session.

The experiences of two organisations working at the forefront of reimagining the sector’s relationship with health and social care – Tyne & Wear Museums and Heritage Doncaster – will be shared.

Health and wellbeing

Closing the first day’s programme is a session devoted to the importance of meaningful change in heritage hierarchies.

Speakers including the vice chair of arts education charity Culture& will give their takes on the importance of visible, audible and truly representative diversity in the sector.

Visible. Vocal. Vital.

The second day of the Summer Series kicks off with Dan Vo and Rachael Lennon discussing the achievements of the Queer Heritage and Collections Network, while also offering attendees the chance to join its rapidly expanding membership.

Unlocking LGBTQ+

Next up is a session devoted to what at first appear playful responses to today’s digital quandaries but have actually proven highly effective tools for public engagement.

The British Library’s reimagining of a retro format and Birmingham Museums’ futuristic virtual curation platform were two of the bright sparks of online ingenuity during the pandemic.

Game for a change?

Sticking with digital, the recurring dilemma of how to split content between in-person visitor experiences and the unlimited online arena is addressed by speakers from organisations with widely varying goals in their pursuit of the perfect post-pandemic blend.

The digital dilemma

Sandwiched in the middle of day two’s agenda is a discussion relevant to all in the sector: fundraising. Museum professionals who led the way with creative cash-raising initiatives during the most challenging of times share their experiences in what promises to be a highly informative panel.

Fundraising: making cents of new opportunities

Building or redeveloping a museum is a herculean task. Getting it right, with millions of pounds often at stake, is paramount.

In the Summer Series second to last session, speakers including Derby Museums’ executive director Tony Butler discuss the joyous successes and harsh lessons of delivering major infrastructure projects in the heritage sector.

Building better

Closing the show will be a session looking to the future, with the importance of partnerships placed front and centre.

Industry leaders will share case studies evidencing how finding and building relationships with like-minded organisations in the sector or from entirely unfamiliar fields can be the difference between mediocrity and brilliance.

Strength in numbers

All information regarding the Museums + Heritage Summer Series 2021 is available here.