50th anniversary conference - Museums in the global contemporary: Debating the museum of now

During April, we were delighted to host over 250 artists, musicians, scholars, practitioners, tutors and students from around the world for our three-day conference ‘Museums in the global contemporary: Debating the museum of now’. For this conference, a key part of our School’s 50th anniversary celebrations, our ‘call for papers’ encouraged a range of different session types, including workshops and performances. Our speakers did not disappoint, and shared their research and practice in innovative ways, helping us to debate some of the most pressing questions facing museums, galleries and heritage organisations today around race, social justice, education, migration, health, and cultural participation.

Many of these issues also featured in the conference’s Exhibition of Research which displayed poster papers and short films. Our keynotes Joan Anim-Addo, Conal McCarthy, Andrea Witcomb, Wayne Modest, Matt Smith, and Viviane Gosselin, together with our own Richard Sandell, offered inspirational provocations, many of which questioned current museum approaches in a still unequal society. 

The wonderful staff at Haley Sharpe Design, our sponsors of the conference, brought the conference to life with a range of events, including an evening tour at their Leicester-based design studio, a design clinic for delegates to get some advice on their current projects, and a hugely entertaining after dinner talk with Bill Haley on the early days of museum design. 

Celebrating the School’s 50th anniversary among such a warm and generous group of friends, graduates, colleagues, and long-time acquaintances felt very special indeed. We were delighted that so much of the event was shared on social media, with so many delegates working hard to share the event with those unable to attend in person. Here’s to the next 50 years!!