Transforming People to Transform Museums, Day 1

Hi Elisha and Alex here!

On Thursday 29th and Friday 30th October, Colchester Castle played host to a national conference entitled ‘Transforming People to Transform Museums: Nuturing a Culture of Change’. It explored the ways in which arts and heritage organisations across Britain are reacting to new challenges and transforming the ways they work. Each day, speakers from various museums, funding and arts organisations spoke about innovative projects they are implementing to enhance workforce development and partnership working, and encouraging better recruitment and visibility.


Alex and I began our day greeting delegates, signing them in and giving them their information packs.


I spent the rest of the day helping to film and record the conference. This meant I was lucky enough to get to listen to all of the fascinating speakers. First up was a keynote speech by John Orna Ornstein from Arts Council England. He spoke about the importance of the workforce within the museum sector, arguing that staff are equal, if not more important than collections, as they ‘bring them to life’. He also spoke about the importance of diversity in the sector and investing in the workforce and volunteers.

Up next were presentations on ‘Workforce development: Empowering staff’ from Kent and Medway Museums, Colchester + Ipswich Museums and the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums, followed by a panel discussion.

After this, delegates headed off to various workshops hosted by Historic Royal Palaces, Museum Development East Midlands, Essex Museums and the Museums Association. I used this opportunity to review my film and have wonder round.

After a delicious buffet lunch there were presentations on ‘Partnerships: Underrepresented audiences’ from the British Museum, New Wolsey Theatre and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I found the New Wolsey Theatre’s ‘Ramps on the Moon’ project particularly interesting, and the passion of the speakers was evident.

The day rounded up with a final panel discussion and some further workshops led by the RNIB, Epping Forest District Museum and Essex Museums. After a quick summary the first day was over and I was then getting ready for day two, where I would be co-presenting and taking part in a panel discussion with Em and Rachel (Projects Development Officer). I would be speaking about the work I had done planning Vintage in the Park, and how the training I had done had prepared me for this. Here is a sneak preview:


Em speaks a bit more about this in her ‘Day 2’ blog post.

It was a really enjoyable day, with truly inspiring and captivating speakers. Well done Lib (Museums Project Officer) who worked so hard planning the conference – she did an amazing job! To top it off afterwards we also got to go and enjoy a lovely tour of the new Martin Parr exhibition at Firstsite, as well as dinner at the Waiting Room (fish or battered halloumi and chips). Top marks all round.


My day at the conference was busy, to say the least! I had to help wherever it was needed, and as it turns out, help was needed everywhere. My morning consisted of signing people in to the conference alongside Elisha. Registration started quite early, so we made sure to be extra-welcoming to all the delegates and let them know where coffee and pastries were located!

The rest of my morning involved helping Elisha film the various talks and workshops and manning the galleries with Visitor Services. Even during the conference, Colchester Castle was still open to the public, so regular Visitor Service duties had to continue.

After a quick lunch, I was assigned to help Peel Interactive showcase their technology and encourage delegates to explore them. For those who donimg_0086‘t know, visitors to Colchester Castle can get to know more about the displays by taking a tablet around. There are various activities on the tablet, including some virtual reality (VR)! The tablets were in high demand, as many delegates had heard about them from previous visitors and were keen to try them out for themselves. Peel Interactive were absolute wonders (they taught me a bit about how VR is made!) and were incredibly friendly and informative.

After parting ways with Peel, the rest of my day consisted of helping wherever needed and then tidying up at the end. The conference was a brilliant day, both fun and informative and Lib should be commended for the amount of work (and love) she put into it.

Till next time,

Alex and Elisha!

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