In preparation for the Workforce Development conference being held by Royal Pavilion & Museums in November, myself and three other members of front-line staff, Kate, Nick and Alice, have been working behind the scenes developing new skills in planning this international conference.
As part of the work we have been doing, last week we attended the Transforming People to Transform Museums, conference in Colchester. This visit had a dual purpose: firstly so the whole of the team could experience a museum conference and secondly, so Kate and I could present on the Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Workforce Development programme, not only to share the experiences but to promote the conference.
The opening talk was from John Orna-Ornstein from the Arts Council and argued that museums’ opening and the visitor experience are reliant on frontline staff, and to maintain frontline services at a high standard, museums and heritage organisations should be investing and focusing on the development of frontline staff including volunteers. For all the team, especially Nick, this was a powerful message to bring back.
Despite having done talks before, I was still nervous. However, the weeks of preparation and practice paid off and the talk went without a hitch. Both Kate and I were involved in the following panel discussion and although a few of the questions threw the whole panel there were no major disasters. And I received positive comments about my presentation from other delegates during the day.
The day was also useful for hearing about some new projects which other museums have been working on. In the morning there was a talk from Colchester and Ipswich Museums about their project that aims to inspire staff to make changes. This includes helping with funding bids and has led to an object trolley being developed for frontline staff at Colchester Castle to help visitors interact with objects and costumed characters in Ipswich Museum.
In the afternoon one workshop was run by Oxford Museums Sensing Culture partnership working with the RNIB to make museums and heritage sites more accessible to the blind and partially sighted. As part of the session each participant was given a blindfold and an object to feel. The session aimed to explore the best ways to support blind and partially sighted visitors in museums with some tips on how museums could approach this.
Overall the day and experience was great fun and the team felt they benefited from the experience. Now, with less than two months left, our own conference planning is full steam ahead.
Holly Parsons, Visitor Services Officer