A guest blog post by Ryan Nutting
The PhD students at the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies recently partnered with the Migration Museum Project to present the sixth School of Museum Studies PhD student led conference Museums Alive! Exploring How Museums Behave Like Living Beings 3-5 November. This conference attracted delegates and presenters from 22 different countries. Over half of the delegates came from either the museum profession or from other universities and academic departments.
The conference featured a wide variety of presenters and topics all exploring how museums behave similar to living organisms. Professor Simon Knell, Dr. Suzanne Macleod, and Professor Susan Pearce all explored this idea to open the first day of the conference and Sophie Henderson of the Migration Museum Project opened the second day by describing the genesis of this museum. Moreover, the conference featured themes including “Creating Museum Identities”, “Living Museums”, “Museum Environments” and “Museums as Laboratories” and featured a variety of presentation styles including participatory workshops and five minute rapid fire sessions.
The event allowed delegates an opportunity to share research and ideas in an open and supportive environment, to network with students and museum professionals, to gain feedback on their research at the world-leading School of Museum Studies, and to disseminate their work to a wider audience. In addition, the process of planning and preparation afforded opportunities for the School’s PhD students to gain valuable skills in planning and organising events as well as a chance to gather together and network with an international group of PhD students, Early Career Researchers, and museum professional.
The delegates and presenters at the conference overwhelming praised the conference and stated that they found it an incredibly useful and positive experience. One presenter remarked, “[Thank you for the] chance to talk about my work in a friendly environment, [the] chance to be a part of a professional, inspiring conference, [and the] chance to get feedback on my work. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity!” Furthermore, many of the delegates commented that they enjoyed the variety of presentation formats throughout the conference and the multiple networking opportunities. Another delegate stated,“I enjoyed the mix of rapid fire presentations, workshops, presentations, and panel questions. Great structure!” Yet another conference delegate stated, “I really enjoyed meeting students, academics and professionals from all over the world to share our research, knowledge, and experiences.”
“The Museums Alive! conference also actively engaged conference delegates, presenters, and people who could not attend the conference over Twitter. For a sample of the Twitter conversations generated by the conference please visit: https://storify.com/MSPhDConf”
I want to thank everyone who attended and helped plan this conference for making it a success! Special thanks to the conference committee: Irene Campolmi, Ching-Yueh Hsieh, Yon Jai Kim, Wen-Ling Lin, Sipei Lu, Anna Mikhailova, Sarah Plumb, Mercy Trent, and Anne Yang for their hard work on this project over the past year as well as Dr. Amy Barnes, Stephanie Bowry, Laurel Brierly, Ceciel Brouwer, Petrina Foti, Amy Hetherington, Dr. Elee Kirk, Cheng-Yi (Cy) Shih, Angela Stienne, Naomi Terry, Cintia Velazquez Marroni, Ruth Webber, and Alex Woodall for their support and guidance. Additional thanks go to the School of Museum Studies MA students Benjamin Doty, Evie Grouti, Jeni Morris, Olivia Perdew, Hanna Smyth, Yu-Chen Yang, and Yangyang Zhao who assisted during the conference.
I am especially grateful to the staff of the Migration Museum for their support and enthusiasm throughout; Sophie Henderson, Emily Miller, Andrew Steeds, and Ratan Vaswani as well as photographer, Kajal Nisha Patel, for leading the walking tour on 3 November. Additional thanks go to Gurpreet (Bob) Ahluwalia, Christine Cheesman, Robin Clarke, Gus Dinn, Dr. Viv Golding, Professor Simon Knell, Barbara Lloyd, Dr. Suzanne MacLeod, Professor Susan Pearce, and Professor Richard Sandell for all of their assistance with the conference planning and organisation.
Finally, a big thank you to the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies, the University of Leicester Graduate School Development Fund, the University of Leicester College of Arts, Humanities, and Law Post Graduate Researcher Fund, and Ashgate Publishing for their financial support of the conference.
A guest blog post by Ryan Nutting