Museum Ideas 2020: Explore the Ideas Shaping the Future of Museums

© Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

Museum Ideas 2020: Explore the Ideas Shaping the Future of Museums

“Museum Ideas is the best museum conference there is. It constantly pitches high and secures superb, relevant speakers, who cover a rich and wide range of topics from international perspectives. It offers food for thought and feeds the soul with engaging and inspiring conversation, networks and ideas” – Helen Whiteoak, National Portrait Gallery

With a progressive attitude and international approach, the Museum Ideas conference in London has welcomed thousands of museum professionals from over 30 countries to share and advance the ideas shaping the future of museums. Museum Ideas 2020 – the ninth edition of the annual London-based international conference – will explore new models of collaborative and socially engaged participatory practice, progressive public engagement, social impact and much more – sharing pioneering ideas that will help shape and support change in museums around the world.

Each year the conference brings together a deliberately eclectic group of speakers and challenges them to share transformative ideas in concise, powerful talks. The aim is for delegates to be challenged by perspectives outside their own specialism and locality. We want delegates to be inspired by speakers who can spark change in unexpected ways. What unites the conference is the passion, commitment and enthusiasm of contributors along with their desire to share valuable expertise and experience. We want Museum Ideas to be a genuinely creative experience for delegates – a conference where you can feel both deeply moved and joyous, welcome and challenged.

Museum Ideas 2020 takes place on Tuesday 6 – Thursday 8 October at the Museum of London. The main conference day is Thursday and is designed so it can be attended as a standalone event. There will be special tours and workshops on Tuesday and an additional day of pre-conference talks on Wednesday but space will be more limited.

“Museum Ideas is a fantastic showcase for inspiring, creative projects and a great opportunity to meet and network with museum colleagues from across the globe. Looking forward to next year already!” – Lucy Morris, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Early-Bird Registration: Early-bird registration is now open for Museum Ideas 2020 – with fresh insights you can take directly back to your team, the event will add tremendous value to your current work and is an active investment in the future and what you choose to do next. In 2019 we saw the quickest uptake in tickets since the event launched nine years ago and the conference sold out in record time. Book your early-bird ticket online below or email if you prefer to be invoiced.

Call for Papers: Interested in speaking at Museum Ideas 2020? Please contact Gregory Chamberlain – Your proposal should include a working title and synopsis (at this stage a brief paragraph is fine), your name, job title and organisation. The deadline for proposals is Friday 31 January 2020.

“A conference for mind expanding conversations and international networking with a platform for shared discussion” – Martin Payne, The British Museum

Just some of the brilliant speakers from previous editions of the Museum Ideas conference

Museum Ideas Speakers
At the 2018 conference award-winning playwright Linda Brogan spoke movingly about the ‘Excavating The Reno’ community project in Manchester’s Moss Side. Bringing together archaeologists, artists, social historians and the public, the project explores the story of a soul and funk club that became a sanctuary from racism in the 1970s. Linda’s talk was frank, honest and extraordinary. This is what Sandra Shakespeare from Museum Detox had to say about it: “Excellent to see the work of Excavating The Reno – an absolutely remarkable fresh change to see such honesty at a museum conference where the tendency is always to showcase the great and the good. It was deeply moving to witness vulnerability and authenticity.” This was echoed by Dhikshana Pering: “Still thinking about the Excavating The Reno project at Museum Ideas 2018 – hands down no conference session in my life has left such an impact… thank you.”

Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, Head of Public Programs at Smithsonian American Art Museum, opened the 2019 conference and set the agenda with her compelling talk ‘Break the Wheel: Museums Challenge the Status Quo’: “As museum practitioners we can allow museums to be a tool of the establishment, the powered, even the oppressor. But through a reflective practice and a reimagining of our purpose, we can instead exercise the power of the museum towards challenging the status quo.” Dr Lauren Vargas from the University of Leicester commented: “This may have been the best museum conference presentation I have ever witnessed – thank you for reminding museums of their role in challenging the status quo and how power is determined by relationship with social justice.”

Highlights from previous editions of Museum Ideas also include: The Right to Remember by Bonita Bennett, District Six Museum, Cape Town; Talking Trash by Alexandra Johnson, Science Museum; A Year in Museums by Sree Sreenivasan, Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Good of Being Different in a Time of Sameness by Mike Sarna, Royal Museums Greenwich; Museums as Vehicles of Social Change by Manal Ataya, Sharjah Museums; Immersive Theatre in Museums by Peter Higgin, Punchdrunk; and Talking to Strangers by Rosie Stanbury, Wellcome Collection.

“An inspirational conference! A coming together of museum minds from across the world – gaining insights, sharing ideas and making connections” – Gillian Crumpton, Ironbridge Gorge Museum

Environmental Responsibility: We recognise that all events, exhibitions and conferences have an environmental impact. In an attempt to help reduce the environmental impact of Museum Ideas 2020 we have made the following decisions: All lunch options will be vegetarian and vegan; all conference banners and signage will be made from recycled cardboard and will be 100% recyclable; delegate badges will be printed on flower seeded paper; conference bags will be made from recycled paper rather than using traditional cotton tote bags. We will continue to look for further changes we can make to help reduce our environmental impact.

Room to Think: Museum Ideas 2020 will have a dedicated quiet space so delegates have the option to take a quiet break away from the busy conference programme. We recognise that conference experiences can often feel more suited to outgoing, socially confident people. Lunch and networking areas especially can often be noisy and potentially difficult places to feel comfortable. We felt the addition of the dedicated quiet space goes some way to improving the conference experience for delegates who are feeling anxious, stressed, or experiencing sensory overload. It is part of trying to ensure all delegates feel equally valued and welcome.

Widening Participation: Over a quarter of Museum Ideas 2020 tickets will be either fully funded or available at a subsidised rate. This rate is available for students, emerging professionals, freelancers, those working at smaller organisations, and for professionals often underrepresented at museum conferences. A crucial part of being an inclusive and relevant event is working hard to keep the cost of tickets low. Budgets are tight – especially at smaller organisations and for those new to the museums sector. Having a higher ticket rate means excluding people who should be represented and who need to be there to help move the conversation forward in a meaningful way. Otherwise there is the risk of museum conferences simply becoming echo chambers for those privileged enough to be able to attend. Please contact to check eligibility and availability of subsidised tickets.


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