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Thursday 16th June 2022

Diversity and Inclusion in Museums

11:15am - 12:15pm

Museums are places for society to come together, to learn and to debate, but they can only be that way if they are inclusive of society as a whole. At the moment, we are not where we should be and still have a lot of work to do across the sector in diversifying our workforce (staff and volunteers), our audiences, and the way we understand and talk about our collections. In this session we will discuss how we get to where we should be; ensuring that our museums are not just welcoming to everyone, but are also representative of the diverse societies we live in.

Chair

    Tamsin Russell
    Workforce Development Officer, Museums Association

    Tamsin’s career to date has been on workforce and organisational development and she has worked in both public and private sectors, moving to the cultural sector 20 years ago.

    Starting as head of training and development for the Science Museum Group, she led the function and implemented new approaches to leadership development; at National Museums Scotland highlights included the development of their Competency Framework, at Historic Environment Scotland her role was in organisational transformation and at National Trust for Scotland she worked on a comprehensive online resource looking at organisational change.

    Her current role at the Museums Association (MA) looks at workforce and careers in the broadest sense. Providing career workshops, speaking on workforce ethics, equality, and wellbeing; as well as leading all the MA’s formal professional development, mentoring and online learning programmes. Her recent research Sticks and Stones: Bullying in Museums has highlighted the extent and diversity of the experience of the sectors workforce and the report and recommendations to affect change to become a sector with a zero-tolerance to bullying.

    In addition to her paid role Tamsin volunteers for Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government on their Recognition Scheme Panel and as an accreditation mentor. Tamsin works with Arts Council England sitting on the UK Accreditation Committee; is a Steering Group member of the Heritage Volunteers Group, leading on the equality and inclusion work, as well as undertaking pro bono and paid freelance work for the sector.

Speakers

    Esther Fox
    Head of Accentuate Programme

    Esther Fox is a Programme Director, Artist and Researcher, interested in exploring the synapses between medicine, art, museums and ethics. Esther is Head of Accentuate, creating opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people to participate and lead in the cultural sector and is currently taking the strategic lead on Curating for Change, working with over 20 Museums across England to deliver a programme for disabled people wanting to pursue a career in Museums. Esther is also a trustee for Hastings Contemporary.

    Thanh Sinden
    Collaborator, Facilitator & Enabler for Positive Change

    Thanh champions and supports culture change and organisational development to create and capture value that is of relevance in a changing world. As an independent arts and museum consultant supporting organisations and teams, she works as a collaborator, facilitator and enabler for positive change. Thanh works with teams that have vision and purpose in a strategic way to turn plans into actions for a more inclusive sector. Her work has taken her across the UK and internationally with groups and organisations, such as Museum Detox, Museum Association, British Council and Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

    ‘My work focuses on social and cultural purposes, projects and initiatives that advance equity between groups, celebrate creativity and value diversity for a more inclusive world. My vision is to inspire collective action that builds a kinder, happier and prosperous world for all.'

    Jacquie Aitken
    Digital Heritage Curator, Timespan

    Digital Heritage Curator, Timespan - Jacquie Aitken is Digital Heritage Curator at Timespan and has a background in archaeology, museums and immersive technology and has a lifelong interest in researching Highland history, landscapes and communities and has worked in the regional and independent sectors for over fifteen years. Her roles at Timespan include the digital curation of the museum and community co-production and over the last four years, she has led the development of new digital visitor experiences and virtual reconstruction models of the past, as part of the Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in the Northern Environment (CINE) and Preserving Heritage in Virtual Environments (PHIVE). Jacquie's research focuses on the use of immersive technology to combat mental health issues in our communities, address social issues and revisioning outdated historical narratives and assess the impact of digital heritage tools on research frameworks for archaeological sites and landscapes. As a supporter of community archaeology, Jacquie initiated the Brora Salt Pans Excavation Project and now leads the research group.

    Timespan’s research focuses on how digital heritage can be used as a generative tool which has the potential to democratise cultural production and argues for it going beyond the spectacle. Real Rights is an online exhibit that’s been developed by Timespan to present the history of our parish within the intersecting frames of climate change and colonialism and provides an integrated framework for bringing together art, heritage and digital in the process of museum redevelopment.

    Michelle McGrath

    Michelle founded the Museum as Muck network in June 2018 frustrated at the lack of working class people in the museum sector. She is a leader with superb facilitation skills, a passionate spokesperson for working class people in museums and a changemaker in the sector. After growing up in the capital, she qualified as a teacher before pursuing a career in museum learning nearly 15 years ago and now leads teams to deliver Learning & Engagement programmes. An audience advocate, she has expertise in working with schools, families, young people and SEND groups. She has worked at many sites in London, including the British Museum, Royal Museums Greenwich and the Museum of the Home. Michelle is also a Trustee of the Museums Association.

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