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2017 Museum Association Conference

Posted on 07/12/2017

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On 16 and 17 November 2017, the team behind the innovative My Primary School is at the Museum  project from King's College London, headed to Manchester for the annual Museums Association conference. The three-day event is the largest of its kind in Europe and brings together museums and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues, discover new practices and meet the world’s leading suppliers and consultants.

This year’s conference focused on three key themes: audiences, collections and workforce, with a number of sessions, keynotes and workshops designed to offer delegates the opportunity to debate, network and exchange. The conference kicked off with an inspirational keynote from poet Lemn Sissay and was followed by other keynotes across the three days from comedian and writer Francesca Martinez, 14-18 NOW Director Jenny Waldman and Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller.

Thursday saw the first session from the My Primary School is at the Museum team on the subject ‘Out of the classroom, into the museum’, where Nia Williams (National Museum Wales), Russell Dwyer (St Thomas Community Primary School) and Sage Morgan-Hubbard (American Alliance of Museums) headed a panel chaired by King’s Dr Heather King. The hour-long presentation saw each representative talk about their personal experience of integrating primary school learning into the museum environment, offering perspectives from that of a school, museum and the American Alliance of Museums, with Sage sharing how they have made the case for collaboration and overcome practical challenges in the US. Audience members asked a host of questions at the end of the session, and took away copies of the project report and flyers promoting the new online forum, set up to provide an online space for museum educationalists and teachers to connect and share resources.

'Having the opportunity to step into the world of the Museums Association and share the compelling, My School is at the Museum project, from a school's perspective, was a real honour. There was real interest generated at the MA conference around the project and it was inspiring being able to engage others in the potential benefits of museums and schools working more closely together.' Russell Dwyer, Head teacher, St Thomas Community Primary School

A follow-up session on Friday saw project evaluator Kate Measures (Heritage Insider), concept initiator Wendy James (Garbers & James) and Dr Heather King provide valuable insight to heritage professionals on how they can make their museums primary school ready. The discussions focussed on ten ‘top tips’ for a successful school-museum residency which were given out to attendees on a handy one-page sheet.

‘It is clear from the tremendously varied response, both in terms of museum setting and even country, that this concept can be universally applied. The core needs, and indeed rights, of children to be inspired at school and offered the opportunity to make strong clear tangible understanding across the arts, sciences and humanities, are a constant…’¬
Wendy James, Garbers & James.

Following the success of the Museums Associations conference, the project team will be heading to Oslo in February 2018, where they have been invited to take part in The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design’s annual conference. The conference focuses on topics related to producing and mediating art, architecture and design to broad audiences, from pre-schoolers to an Alzheimer project. The conference audience includes art professionals from museums, galleries, art associations and schools from all over Norway and further afield in Scandinavia, and the organizing panel are keen to learn from the experience of the My Primary School is at the Museum team here in the UK.

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