It might well be summer, but the autumnal weather outside is making October seem just around the corner. The 2015 MGS conference will be upon us sooner than you think, so don’t be tempted to delay your conference bookings: we have some fantastic speakers ready and waiting to share their expertise, so be sure not to miss out on your first choice of sessions at Fighting Fit: Ready for Anything on Thursday 22 October.
This year’s conference theme is the long-term resilience of the museums sector, with keynotes from Dr Lyndel King and Dr Jamie Coleman. We’ll have blogs from our keynote speakers in the weeks to come, but who are our breakout session speakers? Here’s a very quick introduction to their topics…
Alistair Brown, Museums Association, will lead a panel of experts to discuss how museums can learn from other sectors to ensure that the MA Code of Ethics is understood and examining how it can be embedded in the public conception of museums.
We’re delighted that Carol-Ann Scott will be delivering a session on measuring social value. Carol-Ann will examine how the sector can work together to make the case that museums are not just a ‘nice to have’ but essential to healthy, civil societies.
Museums are indeed essential – but how can their value be preserved in the face of organisational and operational crisis? We’ll hear from Lewis Ramsay, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and Susannah Waters, Glasgow School of Art, using the GSA’s recent fire as a case study. Participants will hear how GSA have adapted services and maintained visitor engagement in the face of such massive upheaval.
Investing in the future of the sector is also essential for long-term resilience. Nicôle Meehan, National Galleries Scotland, will share the experience of creating and delivering their digitisation traineeship programme. This has enabled the Galleries to begin the mass digitisation of collections whilst giving twelve young people eighteen months’ worth of experience and a formal qualification verified by the SQA.
The topic of formal qualifications continues as Steve Scott, our Head of Resources, and Ailsa MacFarlane, Heritage Horizons Traineeship Programme Manager speak about MGS’s own Interns and Heritage Horizons Programmes. MGS is currently running the HHTP, providing the opportunity for non-graduates to attain an SVQ level 3 qualification during a twelve-month paid placement in a museum. This session will look at lessons learned from these innovative programmes and what the legacy might be.
Learning will be a strong theme throughout the breakout sessions. We’re looking forward to welcoming Katey Boal, Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre and Beki Pope, Caithness Horizons to share the learning journey that the Highland Museums Forum has taken whilst engaged in a PATH planning process. Participants will be challenged to think critically about ways in which their organisation responds to change.
But what if your organisation can’t afford to invest in additional paid staff? Is ‘just getting volunteers’ an appropriate solution? Lesley Botten, Fife Cultural Trust, and Siân Knight, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, will lead a joint session exploring the benefits and challenges of sustainable volunteering via findings from the MGS commissioned report The Whole Picture and the Dunfermline Museum Project.
Resilience is not just about investing in paid staff and volunteers. Can museums be responsive to new technologies, making collections relevant to the digital generation? We’ll have three inspiring speakers for the price of one in the Panoramas, Time Travel and Virtual Museums breakout. Dr Keir Strikland, Archaeology Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Anna Vermehren, Timespan Museum and Arts Centre, and Dr Alan Miller, School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews, will demonstrate how Virtual Time Travel technologies can enhance the visitor experience.
Purpose and leadership are essential for museums to thrive. Tamalie Newbery, AIM, will explore these as two of the AIM Hallmarks for a Prospering Museum –. Participants will hear from two Scottish museums about how they have approached these topics and the effect it has had.
A thriving sector needs to continually strive to improve. Tamsin Russell, Historic Environment Scotland, will lead an interactive session looking at what is meant by improvement and how organisations can take the first steps in their own improvement journey reflecting on best practice frameworks.
Widening access and engaging with wider cultural themes could help museums improve the visitor experience. Jo Sohn-Rethel, National Museums Scotland, will lead on the theme of partnership working through the Next of Kin WWI project. Meanwhile, Neil Johnson-Symington, Glasgow Museums, will look at the many ways in which Glasgow Museums engaged with the 2014 Commonwealth Games, before focusing on a couple of specific examples.
In addition to all of these fantastic learning opportunities, the venue has ample capacity for quiet chats and impromptu meetings, so be sure to pick people’s brains, exchange business cards or even take advantage of our additional meeting room, which we will be keeping aside for anybody who would like to use it on the day. Just get in touch with one of the MGS staff in the venue if you would like a quiet space to gather for discussions with colleagues.
We hope this blog will help you make a decision on which session you’d like to attend. Please don’t delay with making your selection though – some breakouts are strictly limited in terms of capacity.
We’ll see you in October!
The MGS Conference Team