GEM Conference 2019

Connection, Action, Innovation

Forging dynamic and lasting partnerships with communities

Wednesday 11 September – Friday 13 September 2019, Torquay Museum

Bookings and Call for Papers now open!  Save over £60 with the early bird rate until Monday 17 June 2019!



The GEM annual conference is the landmark CPD event of the year for heritage learning in the UK. Through a combination of inspiring keynotes and practical sessions, GEM conference provides delegates with new ideas, original solutions and strengthened networks. We build a participatory space, by Gemmers, for Gemmers, uncovering new pathways and shining a spotlight on best practice and cutting-edge developments.

GEM conference is a great opportunity to connect with the fantastic heritage learning community, sharing our challenges and celebrating our innovations.  This year we are collaborating with South West Museum Development to learn about the huge achievements in community relationship-building, volunteering and managing limited resources in this area. We are always proud of the uniquely friendly, supportive and positive environment of GEM conference. Delegates create a buzz and leave with renewed passion and concrete next steps, striking a balance between reconnecting with the philosophy of what we do and generating practical takeaways.



Connection, Action, Innovation
Forging dynamic and lasting partnerships with communities

“With audiences, not for audiences” is now at the heart of heritage learning. The museum can no longer stand apart, but must live and breathe as part of a local, national and global ecosystem.  Working with South West Museum Development, Connection, Action, Innovation will explore how learning and participation can forge dynamic and lasting partnerships with communities to cultivate innovation, activism and wellbeing, as part of this ecosystem.

The conference will tackle the challenges faced by learning teams and communities and share cutting edge developments from both small and large organisations.  Together, we will explore how we can develop…


  • Fostering relationships with communities as a hub for social action and wellbeing.
  • Delivering programming that is responsive, inclusive, and represents a variety of voices.
  • Questioning what a “community” is and how this affects our practice and results.


  • Discarding the idea of the museum as neutral, taking a stance against inequality.
  • Challenging assumptions, building confidence, and pursuing activism to impact our shared society and wellbeing.


  • Developing a resilient, effective workforce that reflects local communities, and elevates contributions of staff and volunteers.
  • Learning from our communities, finding exciting new pathways and practices with them.
  • Empowering all voices to speak up, take charge and make change to, with, and through the museum.

Taking part in Connection, Action, Innovation will be invaluable to anyone working in museum, heritage and cultural learning in both large and small organisations.  Please join us as we challenge the notion that cuts have left us with little to work with, bringing innovative and passionate people together to spark inspiration and drive the heritage learning sector forward.

Programme to be announced soon!


Date and venue

We are pleased to be holding GEM Conference at Torquay Museum, Devon, from Wednesday 11 September to Friday 13 September 2019.


How to book

To book your place for Connection, Action, Innovation, please download the GEM Conference 2019 Booking Form and return it to or GEM, 54 Balmoral Road, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 4PG by Monday 2 September 2019.

To make this conference as accessible as possible, we’ve reduced the prices by almost 10% from 2018 and offered an early bird rate to non-members!

Don’t miss the early bird rates, available until Monday 17 June 2019!

  • GEM member rate (whole conference): £297
  • Non-member rate (whole conference): £490
  • GEM member rate (day fee): £100
  • Non-member rate (day fee): £150

After 17 June 2019, the fee for GEM conference is:

  • GEM member rate (whole conference): £365
  • Non-member rate (whole conference): £550
  • GEM member rate (day fee): £135
  • Non-member rate (day fee): £185

Evening activities to be announced soon, with separate booking online.


Call for Papers

We are always excited to see the huge variety of projects and practices undertaken by heritage educators. We encourage GEM members and non-members from any kind of museum, heritage or cultural site to apply to deliver a session at GEM Conference 2019. GEM Conference is the perfect opportunity to share and develop your work, so if you would be interested in leading a breakout session, workshop, or members’ presentation, please see the Call for Papers and submit your application by Friday 10 May 2019.

Download the Call for Papers.  Download the papers proposal form.



This year we are also working with the Disability Collaborative Network for Museums CIC (DCN) to ensure we run an accessible event in respect to physical, sensory and cognitive access.  We will shortly be publishing more information about conference accessibility, but if you need any additional support or features in order to attend or deliver a session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with


See last year’s conference here.


In partnership with…

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