GEM Conference 2021 – Programme Highlights

A taste of what's to come: some highlights of GEM's 2021 Conference Programme

We can’t wait to welcome you to GEM Conference 2021; The Future of Museum and Heritage Learning. This year’s main conference programme will be hosted online, and includes opportunities for connection, inspiration and community across three days from 8-10 September. Browse the highlights below for a taste of what’s to come, and book your place today.

Professor Charlotte Williams OBE on Black History in the Curriculum

A photograph of Professor Charlotte Williams stood on a bridge wearing a black suit.We’re delighted to welcome Professor Charlotte Williams OBE to GEM Conference 2021 with a keynote on the theme of teaching children about the true history of ethnically diverse communities in Wales and beyond.

Professor Williams is Chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group, focused on incorporating black history into the Welsh Curriculum. She is Honorary Professor at Bangor University, and an Honorary Fellow at the University of South Wales.

Image credit: Naomi Jellico

Museum Outreach: Adapting to a Pandemic

From virtual 360 tours and outdoor programming, to delivering kits to community groups and returning to our “normal” outreach programming, this keynote will focus on how the Florida Museum has adapted its outreach programing during the pandemic to better serve diverse audiences. Alberto Torres will discuss successes, challenges and what we have learned as we move into the “new normal” of informal science education outreach in a post pandemic world.

Alberto López Torres is the Youth Outreach Coordinator at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville Florida.

Prescribe Culture; A Heritage-Based, Non-Clinical Mental Health Programme

What links a copy of the Yorkshire Post, left on a train heading North from York to Edinburgh, and a statistic from a presentation by the University of Edinburgh’s Director of Student Wellbeing? Answer, Prescribe Culture.

This keynote will be presented by Ruthanne Baxter, Museum Services Manager at the University of Edinburgh. Over the course of the 2017/18 academic year, the Counselling Services at the University of Edinburgh saw an increase in demand of 22%. Inspired by an article about the success of an arts-based social prescribing programme for older people in Swaledale, Yorkshire, they brought together an interdisciplinary team to develop ‘Prescribe Culture’, a heritage-based, non-clinical pilot project to support students with mental health difficulties.

Contested Desires

The legacy of Europeans exploiting, imposing and foraging cultures and communities to build their Empires presents a complex shared cultural heritage. Contested Desires is a project with an emphasis on exchange and learning, building capacity for artists and producers engaging with communities and heritage spaces. The project worked with communities and artists to explore and reveal the links between our colonising ancestors and our cultural identities today. This conference keynote will be delivered by one of the project partners.

Virtual Collaboration - Hidden Histories Illustrated

Hidden Histories Illustrated, is an exciting project consisting of an illustrator, Sporting Heritage CIC and 50 sporting museums, showcasing heritage through 8 illustrated online family resources. The activities shared untold stories of women in sport, disability in sport and unusual objects.

This presentation by freelance artist educator Jessica Hartshorn discusses the successes and benefits of working collaboratively with other museums when creating virtual resources, to cross post and expand audiences, and support each other during and beyond Covid -19. The presentation will also explore working with an access and disability consultant to create large print and accessible online content for each resource.


Building connections: partnerships for challenging loneliness

As we emerge from the pandemic more aware than ever of the negative impacts of loneliness, this presentation explores the potential for museums to contribute to community wellbeing, focusing on a 2-year project at the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM), working with older people at risk of loneliness.

Miranda Stearn shares how co-production led to participants and practitioners coming together in a spirit of enquiry to explore how connecting through shared experiences of works of art could become part of individuals’ strategies to combat loneliness and isolation – and the unique role museums might play in enabling this in the future.

Online and Offline Safeguarding in the Age of the 'Culture War'

While we now – hopefully – live in an age of renewed commitment to anti-racism, we are yet to embed a holistic approach which includes marketing teams.

Ever wondered about what happens when they have to manage attacks from trolls and the press? What about the impact of tokenising the few “diverse” faces in your organisation?

Join Aksana Khan and Zakira Begum  in exploring what happens behind the scenes, and what we can do better to protect and care for our Black and POC staff inside and outside of the marketing machine.

Other Conference Highlights to look out for...

From reaction to future action; whats next for digital learning?

Sian Shaw, Digital Learning Manager at Westminster Abbey, explores that vital question for all who have adapted to digital content and learning during the pandemic- ‘What next?’

Creativity, Resilience and Hope: Youth-led work in lockdown

Amelia Bain-McCullough discusses how staff at West Cheshire Museums reimagined their engagement with young people in the North West during lockdown, taking inspiration from young people’s creativity and resilience.

Teaching the Second World War during Covid-19: A Case Study in Working with Schools to Create a new ‘Safe Space’

Catherine Doran from the Northern Ireland War Memorial reflects on the legacy of their Covid-19 adaptations to create a safe space for sensitive learning.

Digital Competency: What skills do museum educators need in the new normal?

Tom Briggs, AMIMA, Maths Communicator & Museum Learning Consultant on his newly developed digital competencies for museum educators.

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