Skills and Opportunities in World Cultures Collections: The View from Late 2020

Claire Wintle, Helen Mears, Rebecca Bridgman, Rachael Minott, Christo Kefalas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In October 2019 over 70 people gathered in Brighton as part of the annual Museums Association conference to reflect on the key skills and behaviours required by curators of world cultures collections. The event was co-organised by the ‘Museums, Archives, Exhibitions’ research strand at the University of Brighton’s Centre for Design History, and The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove (now The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust). Short provocations delivered by Christo Kefalas (National Trust), Rachael Minott (Horniman Museum) and Rebecca Bridgman (Birmingham Museums Trust) set the tone for the debate. Following these presentations, the delegates worked together in a workshop format to list their top required skills and behaviours. They were also asked to document their answers to two further questions: 1) ‘What are the current barriers preventing individual and institutional change?’ and 2) ‘What are your recommendations moving forward?’. The discussions were rich, challenging and inspiring. They were designed to support the museum sector and professionals working with ‘world cultures’ collections by documenting and advocating for their specific needs. Since that event, much in our sector and the wider world has changed. Yet the issues and recommendations raised by this group of practitioners, academics and students seemed to us more relevant than ever. Despite the attention paid in museums to the past, our institutional and collective memory is often opaque; previous projects and lessons learnt are easily forgotten. With this in mind, in this invited opening comment for the practitioner orientated Journal of Museum Ethnography, we document the Brighton discussions. We also take this opportunity to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on the sector, and develop some expanded recommendations. We hope these will help stimulate further discussion, support advocacy for resources, and – perhaps most importantly – prompt action.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Museum Ethnography
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Jan 2021


  • Museums
  • Covid-19
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Ethnography
  • Collections


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