A week in the life of the CEO…

Feminism at the MA Conference, Recognised Collections, Kelvin Hall opening, Rozelle House and Sports Heritage, Mental Health and Dementia Seminar


There is never a dull moment as CEO of MGS and last week was a perfect example of the incredibly diverse nature of my role and the variety of work happening in museums across Scotland.

Monday and Tuesday were spent at the fantastic MA Conference which this year was hosted by Glasgow. The city certainly did Scotland proud and delegates received a very warm welcome to the brilliant museums. The conference’s three themes (Being Brave, People and Places and Health and Wellbeing) echoed well with the times. The health and wellbeing sessions in particular were very pertinent to our work at MGS. I found the National Alliance of Museums Health and Wellbeing and their work to support museums to improve existing practice in this area, hugely helpful.

A real highlight was the keynote by Jackie Kay whose captivating narrative and poetry tore apart stereotypes and challenged preconceptions. Truly inspirational stuff and I was delighted to catch up with her that evening at the conference party at the Riverside Museum. Next on the schedule was Come Dine With Me with Glasgow Women’s Library  along with Merete Ipsen, Museum Director at the Danish Kvindemuseet who I had last seen on an ancient wall in Xi’an in China.

Like Glasgow Women’s Library, the Kvindemuseet is one of just a few museums in the world addressing women’s history. Located in Aarhus, their work focuses on women’s life and work and discusses gender issues, gender, body and sexuality.  I was delighted that a chance conversation I had with Adele Patrick from Glasgow Women’s Library about Merete resulted in this amazing woman coming to the MA Conference.

My highlights from day two of the conference included the session about feminism – Getting to Grips with Gender and using the F word in Museums.  The discussions were all the more poignant in light of the events unfolding across the Atlantic that morning.

Another highlight was hearing about the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) at the root of the session on the Fair Glasgow Project – an ongoing collaboration between Glasgow’s travelling showpeople and Glasgow Museums.

I found the keynotes from Alexandre Fernades and Luiz Alberto Oliveira from the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro of specific interest as I am speaking at their iconic Museu do Amanha at the International Museums Conference Transform Museums “Museums: What for?” next week.

On Wednesday I was at Glasgow Women’s Library who very kindly allowed us to use space in their wonderful museum for a gathering of the Recognised Collections holders. There was a brilliant turn out with nearly all of the 46 Collections that have been Recognised as Nationally Significant to Scotland represented. Some in-depth workshops on a variety of themes allowed the group to exchange ideas and plan partnership projects.

Thursday was spent in the office preparing for the Audit and Risk committee meeting and then it was back on the road to Rozelle House in Ayr.  I was very privileged to be invited to open a great new exhibition on the eve of Armistice Day of works by Muirhead Bone – a Scottish artist who recorded both the First and Second World Wars.  I definitely recommend a visit or signing up to their wonderful print workshops.

Friday was an early start with the First Minister officially opening the new Kelvin Hall with its co-location of services from sports hall to archive film and The Hunterian stores and research labs.  There was a great turnout to hear about this ground-breaking facility and the planned future phases that have so much potential. The First Minister unveiled a plaque to commemorate the £35 million refurbishment.

Then I was straight off to Hampden Park Stadium for the Sports Heritage, Mental Health and Dementia Seminar to hear from inspirational international speakers on developments and research into this area.  What really struck me is how the original MGS funded project by the Scottish Football Museum has become the leading global example of sports reminiscence. This is a massive achievement and something to be celebrated. This sentiment was underlined in the speech by Aileen Campbell, MSP for Clydesdale and Minister for Public Health and Sport who highlighted the importance of sharing the work so that we start to see more projects like this across the globe.

What an amazing week spent in the thick of an incredibly diverse and inspirational sector!

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