Museums Association Conference in Edinburgh

Figure 1: The view from my hotel room of Edinburgh castle.

I spent last Thursday and Friday at the Museums Association conference in Edinburgh.  This is a great chance for me to mingle with museum professionals, have a chat, and find out some of the latest ideas and thinking currently affecting the sector.

As you might imagine, the spectre of cuts was never far from people’s minds; but after acknowledging the difficult times facing the sector, most of the talk was of a more positive nature about addressing issues and challenges and building for the future.  The conference was also a great opportunity to chat with people from all kinds of different museums from up and down the country and even further afield.

My personal highlights were the keynote address on Friday given by Martin Roth (director of the V and A); and a talk about a recent instalation at the Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel at Glasgow entitled: ‘Crash- tackling risk and mortality’.  It was a really interesting topic, focusing on what happens when a journey doesn’t go to plan.  The creative process involved hunting down and interviewing a crash victim, displaying the victim’s motorcycle, and filming a dramatic reconstruction of the past involving the main protagonists who were on the scene at the time and who aided the gentleman in this subsequent recovery.

I also enjoyed the networking event at the National Museum of Scotland on Thursday evening; so much so that I returned the following morning for a tour given by Gareth Hoskins, architect of the recently completed facelift and ongoing work at the museum.  It was interesting to hear Gareth’s take on how he’d worked with the curators and collections when implementing his ideas at the museum.

Here are some photos of the museum taken during my tour:

Figure 2: Opening space up for conventions, events etc., yet still incorporating objects in the newly christened ‘long gallery’ was something that Gareth tried to implement.

Figure 3: The natural history gallery is very impressive; and lines of sight allows links to form between the fish seen here, and galleries focusing on Polynesian culture, strongly linked to the ocean.

Figure 4: It is possible to see how displays of objects hang down the walls like curtains, drawing the eye to upwards and encouraging visitors to venture higher up in the museum.

Overall, I had a brilliant time at the conference and even my poor attempt at Ceilidh dancing on Thursday evening couldn’t spoil my appreciation of the sights and sounds and my experience overall!

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About Trainee Curator

I will be writing a blog about the next twelve months spent as a trainee biological curator based at Manchester Museum.
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