The Centre for Design History will host a conference on the past, present and future of museum work, as part of their participation in the AHRC-funded network, ‘Making Museum Professionals, 1850-Now’.

Navigating Museum Careers: Pathways, Training and Communities, 1850-Now

December 4-5, 2023, 12-5pm GMT.


This online international conference brings academics and practitioners together to consider the past, present and future of museum work. The specific theme of the workshop focuses on careers, exploring training, networks, journeys and the interaction of individual careers with global and social challenges. Together, we will ask:

  • How have policies and processes of training, promotion and pathways through museum careers shaped the museum sector?
  • How have individuals and communities negotiated and challenged mainstream career paths?
  • What kinds of training – informal and formal – support the museum sector?
  • How are museum careers shaped?
  • How do museum career pathways produce particular competences, hierarchies and ways of working?

All welcome.

Please click HERE to book. For enquiries, please email Dr Claire Wintle at

For more information on the workshop, visit the wider Network website by clicking HERE


Monday 4th December

12:00 (GMT)/7:00 (EST)/14:00 (EET) Welcome and Opening Remarks

12.15pm-1.45pm: Session 1: Training

  • How have various informal and formal training programmes shaped the sector over time?
  • What are the origins of these initiatives?
  • What are their characteristics? In what kinds of spaces have they emerged?
  • What are their limitations and possibilities?

‘The obstacle course’: The training of pioneering female museum directors

Dr Laia Anguix-Vilches, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Shaping the sector: An examination of the interdependence of US conservation training and practice

Anisha Gupta and Dr Joelle D.J. Wickens, University of Delaware, US

Norfolk Museums’ Teaching Museum Trainee Program

Sarah Gore, Norfolk Museums, UK

Professional Development in the 21st Century

Tamsin Russell, Museums Association, UK

1.45-2.15pm: Break

2.15pm-3.45pm: Session 2: Networks

  • What kinds of networks have emerged in support of museum careers over time, within and beyond the museum?
  • What are their origins and characteristics?
  • What role do networks play in developing museum careers and shaping the sector?
  • How have communities of support/practice negotiated and challenged mainstream career paths?

Breathing Space – Sustaining Highland Heritage

Nicola Henderson and Helen Avenell, Museums and Heritage Highland, UK

“Self Help Is Obviously the Order of the Day”: Forging the UK Registrar Profession

Stuart Bowes, University of Leeds and the Royal Armouries, UK

Establishing the Museum Ethnographers Group: Subject Specialist Networks and Professional Practice

Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton, UK

TheMuseumsLab: The future of museums in both Africa and Europe?

BeKuto waSirya a.k.a. Anthony Kalume, Diversity Lewes, UK

Because you (still) can’t eat prestige: Looking at PASTA MoMA for shared struggles and triumphs in U.S. Art Museums

Amanda Tobin Ripley, Ohio State University, US

3.45-4.15pm: Break

4.15-5.00pm: Workshop Discussion (Part I)


Tuesday 5th December

12:00 (GMT)/7:00 (EST)/14:00 (EET): Welcome and Opening Remarks

12.15pm-1.45pm: Session 3: Career Journeys

  • How are museum careers shaped over time?
  • How do museum practitioners become ‘professionals’?
  • How can we understand and define museum careers?
  • How do museum career pathways produce particular competences, hierarchies and ways of working?

Establishing Museum Exhibition Design at the British Museum

Kate Guy, University of Brighton, UK

Career Journeys of South African Museum Professionals

Dr Qanita Lilla, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queens University, Canada

Māori museology: Training, qualifications and museum practice in Aotearoa New Zealand

Prof Conal McCarthy, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Museum Career Stories – Exploring Professional Journeys

Dr Nuala Morse, University of Leicester, UK and David O’Brien, University of Manchester, UK

1.45-2.15pm: Break

2.15pm-3.45pm: Session 4: Global and Social Challenges

  • How have museum practitioners navigated global and social challenges throughout their careers?
  • How are professional identities shaped by personal and political beliefs?
  • How can museums support the people they work with (including employees, freelancers, artists, volunteers and communities) to navigate these challenges?

When do I take my shoes off in the museum? On capacity building and critical engagement for collections care in the southern Himalayas

Dr Ayesha Fuentes, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK

The artist-museum encounter: Reclaiming decolonial and radical care practices

Benazir Basauri Torres, Peru/Denmark

“Ready to deal with anything”: How public-facing staff navigate political conversations

Laharee Mitra, University of Brighton, UK

Navigating a Museum Career through the Communist Past in Romania

Delia Bran, University of Bucharest and Bucarest Municipality Museum, Romania

Through Medicine, Photography, and Archaeology: Chen Wanli (1892–1969) and the Making of a Museum Professional in Twentieth-Century China

Dr Feng Schöneweiß, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut

3.45-4.10pm: Break

4.10-4.50pm: Workshop Discussion (Part II)

4.50-5pm: Concluding Remarks