Speakers Announced for Museum Ideas 2020 International Conference

Speaking at the Museum Ideas 2020 international conference (clockwise from top left) Melanie Keen, Alisa Martin, Esme Ward, Masum Momaya, Nick Merriman, Dan Hicks, Cara Courage, and Alvin Tan. Further speakers announced soon…

Museum Ideas 2020 takes place on Tuesday 6 – Thursday 8 October in London. It is the ninth edition of the annual international conference and 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.

Speakers this year include:

Melanie Keen is Director of Wellcome Collection in London. In a career spanning over twenty years, Melanie has worked as an independent curator and consultant, as a senior relationship manager at Arts Council England, and until recently as Director and Chief Curator of Iniva (the Institute of International Visual Arts). She is an Independent Advisor to the Government Art Collection, sits on the British Council’s Visual Arts Advisory Group and sat on the Mayor of London’s Suffrage Commission Group in 2018 which saw the commission of an artwork by the first female artist, Gillian Wearing, in Parliament Square. She was on the Selection Committee for the British Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2019.

Alisa Martin is Vice President, Educational Operations, at the Tenement Museum in New York City. Alisa leads the multifaceted team of full-time education managers and specialists responsible for budgeting, staff development, program implementation, and visitor engagement. She oversees the management of the 80 educators primarily responsible for delivering the unique Tenement Museum experience to visitors through facilitated storytelling. Prior to joining the Tenement Museum, Alisa was Vice Director, Brand Management and Visitor Services, at Brooklyn Museum.

Esme Ward is Director and Honorary Professor of Heritage Futures at Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, where she is overseeing a significant capital development with a commitment to lead the world’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum. Esme is a Clore Cultural Leadership Programme Fellow — where she explored social and civic purpose, leadership and the future of museums — and is Cultural Lead for the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub. Esme was Co-Director of the Arts and Health Programme at the World Health Congress 2019, was previously Head of Learning Engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth, and is currently Chair of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance.

Masum Momaya has 20 years of experience working at the intersection of arts and culture, social justice, and international affairs as a researcher, curator, writer, educator, grantmaker, and nonprofit organization director. Masum has curated exhibitions and public programs about racial justice and immigrant rights at the Smithsonian Institution and about women’s rights at the International Museum of Women. Currently, Masum is a fellow with Open Society Foundations and founder of a consulting practice Curating Words, Strategies and Sights for Justice and Rights, through which she advises foundations working on arts and social justice. She is working on a book about how to engage the principles of curatorial practice for social justice and also writing a feature film screenplay that explores reparations for colonization.

Nick Merriman is Chief Executive at Horniman Museum and Gardens. Before that he was Director of the Manchester Museum, where he focused its mission on promoting understanding between cultures and working towards a sustainable world, and oversaw the refurbishment of most of the Museum’s permanent galleries. Previously Nick was Director of Museums and Collections, and Reader in Museum Studies, at University College London for eight years. Nick studied archaeology at Cambridge University, and his PhD, on widening participation in museums, was published as ‘Beyond The Glass Case’. He has published widely on museum studies topics, was Chair of the International Council of Museums (UK) from 2001 to 2004, President of the Council for British Archaeology from 2005 to 2008, Chair of the University Museums Group from 2009 to 2013, Convenor of the Museums Association’s Ethics Committee from 2008 to 2014 and was Chair of the Collections Trust from 2013 to 2017. The Horniman recently launched a Climate and Ecology Manifesto, outlining their platform for action to mitigate against the climate emergency by putting the environment at the heart of their mission, programming and collections.

Dan Hicks FSA, MCIfA is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator of World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College. Dan works on the material and visual culture of the modern, (post)colonial and contemporary world, and on the history of Archaeology and Anthropology. Current work is focused on the politics of European museum collections, and the material culture of the “refugee crisis”. Dan is also a Non-Executive Director and Trustee of Museum of London Archaeology. Dan is the kind of archaeologist who places public engagement and cross-sector collaboration at the centre of his research activity. He has regularly appeared on a range of broadcast media, including BBC 4 TV documentaries and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, In Our Time, and Making History, and is an active Twitter user: @ProfDanHicks. Dan will be chairing Museum Ideas 2020.

Cara Courage is a placemaking, and arts, activism and museums academic and practitioner, and Head of Tate Exchange, Tate’s platform dedicated to socially engaged art. Cara is author of Arts in Place: The Arts, the Urban and Social Practice (Routledge, 2017), and the co-editor of Creative Placemaking and Beyond (Routledge, 2018), and editor of the forthcoming, Placemaking Handbook (Routledge, 2020). At Tate Exchange, Cara has developed its specialism in particular in social practice arts, social justice, climate emergency and creative aging through its curation and programming and across international practice and research networks, in the museum and arts sectors. Cara speaks internationally on topics covering the C21st museum, the civic and activist museum, socially engaged art in community and museum settings and arts and urban design, placemaking and planning.

Alvin Tan is currently Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Community) at the National Heritage Board in Singapore, where he was previously Group Director (Policy) for 2013 – 2015, Director (Heritage Institutions) for 2010 – 2013 and Covering Director (Industry Promotion) for 2010 – 2011. As Deputy Chief Executive, he oversees strategies, operations and projects pertaining to heritage impact assessment and mitigation, National Monuments and heritage sites (including UNESCO), the National Collection, collections care and management, community outreach and education, volunteer engagement, the heritage institutions (comprising Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Malay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre), Museum Roundtable, heritage grants, language campaigns as well as international relations. Alvin oversaw the development of the first ever Our SG Heritage Plan which was launched in March 2018. He is also a Board member of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and the Malay Heritage Foundation as well as a member of URA’s Heritage & Identity Partnership.

Find out more about Museum Ideas 2020 and book your ticket

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