Museums Alive! conference

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. 

In addition to allowing the School of Museum Studies PhD students to gain marketable skills in planning and organising events this conference provided students with the opportunity to gather together and network with an international group of PhD students, Early Career Researchers, and museum professional. Moreover, the conference allowed the 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. 

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: 

Conference Project Manager Ryan Nutting thanks everyone who attended and helped plan this conference for helping to make it a success! Ryan also thanks the conference committee of Irene Campolmi, Ching-Yeah 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. Elle Kirk, Cheng-Yi (Cy) Shih, Angela Stienne, Naomi Terry, Cintia Velazquez Marroni, Ruth Webber, and Alex Woodall for their support and guidance. Additionally, Ryan thanks 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. 

Moreover, Ryan thanks the staff of the Migration Museum and School of Museum Studies for their support including Sophie Henderson, Emily Miller, Andrew Steeds, and Ratan Vaswani from the Migration Museum Project as well as Kajal Nisha Patel for leading the walking tour on 3 November. From the School of Museum Staff Ryan thanks 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, Ryan thanks 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.

Photos taken by Dr Amy Jane Barnes, Ruth Webber and Romina Delia


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