Happy Birthday Museums Association!

This year the Museums Association UK formed in York in 1889 is celebrating its 125th birthday. The General Meeting took place in Cardiff on the 8th and 9th of October and was attended by over 700 delegates from all over the world, including countries as far as Argentina.

image

Welcome drinks at the Welsh Senat the day before the official opening.

The Association is doing better than ever and the number of members reached the record 6,500.

The first day of the conference was opened by Mr Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, who enthusiastically wished the delegates an enjoyable and thought-provoking event.

image

The conference took place in the stunning setting of the Donald Gordon Theatre in Cardiff Bay.

In his opening speech David Anderson, director general of National Museum Wales and president of the Museums Association quoted the great thinkers of the 19th century as an inspiration for the fellow museum professionals. Those early trend setters such as William Morris were particularly aware of the social injustice and saw the museums and education as a way to erase it. Anderson quoted Henry Cole and his public lecture from November 16th 1857 given at the South Kensington Museum opening: Museums will be like a book with its pages open and not shut.

image

The main slogan this year is Museums Change Lives was reflected in the sessions focused on how museums should open up and work with all social groups in order to inspire and revitalise the local communities. Many example stories followed.

The concurrent sessions focused on those tasks to help museums reinvent themselves and their role in the local communities. Many of the sessions were also dedicated to the financial strains the museums are currently facing and the ways to overcome these difficulties without losing the goals along the way. The museum workers were introduced to inspiring examples of entrepreneurial thinking.

The first day ended with a celebration reception at the Cardiff National Museum, where more speeches and toasts were delivered by the Museum Assosciation director general and the director of the Museum.

 image

Jubilee drinks at the main hall of the National Museum Cardiff.

The second day begun with a moving performance ‘Cabinet of Curiosities. How Disability was Kept in a Box’ by Mat Fraser: actor, performer and activist supporting the disabled in museums- both fighting to change how they are shown and to improve their experience as visitors.

All the way throughout the event the omnipresent Welsh accents (bilingual signages and greetings by the many of the speakers) culminated in a gripping performance by the event’s poet in residence Martin Daws, who presented his poem at the farewell meeting in the main auditorium. ‘Be strong and brave’ he told his the assembly, ‘people need you’.