On May 16 and 17 hundreds of museum professionals and exhibitors will converge on Olympia West in London for the UK’s largest free museum sector event. There will be 56 free talks with seven different themes including Learning – Engaging New Visitors – Understanding Your Visitors – Exhibition Design + Interpretation – Collections Management – New Technology – Fundraising, Retail + Trading – Exhibition Design + Interpretation.

There will be talks on new museums and redevelopments such as the Postal Museum and Brooklands Museum, which will discuss developing audiences and creating immersive exhibitions respectively, as well as the design and delivery of blockbuster exhibitions with World Museum, Liverpool discussing China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors along with fit-out specialists The Hub.

Societal issues will also be discussed and how museums can make a difference including a talk on Museums and Wellbeing featuring the chair of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, Alex Coulter and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind, that will tackle the issue of poor mental wellbeing being a major health issue in the UK. And, at a time when smart phones, social media and gangs are all portrayed as having a negative effect on our youth, Clare Simmons from Bristol Museums will be giving a talk on The Battle for Youth Engagement, where she will share experiences from the museum’s young people’s engagement programme.

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The Museums + Heritage Show features more than 50 free talks and an exhibition with more than 160 suppliers showcasing new products with some, such as PLB above, offering free masterclasses

There will be important talks from sector bodies including a joint session with Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will see the Arts Council’s Isabel Churcher and HLF’s Fiona Talbott outline new funding opportunities for the museums and heritage sector. This session will provide information and ideas about working with sector support organisations and the HLF’s outline on consultation for its new funding framework. The Department for International Trade will join forces with Haley Sharpe Design and Museum Insider to discuss the US as a key market for the UK’s creative industries and Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and Museums + Heritage Awards judge, will be giving a talk on being provocative, disruptive and taking risks to find new audiences.

“We aim to provide this sector with a melting pot of ideas, inspiration and practical advice enabling our visitors to arrive with questions and to leave with answers,” said Show Manager, Sara Bowen. “For two days of the year the Show opens its doors to everyone working in this sector, inviting them to come along and tap into the wealth of knowledge of more than 160 exhibitors and more than 90 expert speakers.”

The Tinsmiths Shop at Brooklands Museum, which will feature as a free talk at this year's show

Throughout these themed talks, representatives from new National Portfolio Organisations will provide insight to overcome challenges in museums with Kids in Museums’ Caroline Marcus joining forces with Claire Madge, aka blogger Tincture of Museums and founder of Autism in Museums, to share ideas on creating inclusive museums and Association of Independent Museums’ (AIM) director, Emma Chaplin will be talking about admission charges and what current research tells us about it.

And, following a successful webinar on Advisor, Naomi Korn, copyright and compliance specialist, will give a talk in the Collections Management stream on the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that will replace the Data Protection Directive on 25 May. She will also provide advice on other aspects of data protection and copyright for museums. And Richard Evans, director of Beamish Museums and chair of AIM, will outline how the open air museum uses knowledge of its visitors to put them at the centre of its focus and reaps the rewards.

There will also be volunteer-focused presentations including How to Grow Your Own [volunteers] with Volunteer Makers’ programme director, Clare Sully and David Juler of the Museum of Oxford, a discussion on Cultural Change through Community Partnerships with Joe Sullivan from the RAF Museum London and Joined Up: Effective Networks for Heritage Volunteering with Richard Gough, from The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and vice chair of the Heritage Volunteering Group.

And no show would be complete without looking to the future and how new technology is driving change in museums by providing new experiences, new ways of sharing stories and collecting data. Mark Cutmore, head of commercial enterprises at the Science Museum Group will talk about making VR a commercial venture with the example of the Space Decent VR experience with Tim Peake and the V&A’s Kate Bailey and Rebecca Lim will give a presentation on going beyond the 3D experience and curating exhibition spaces in new ways.

This year’s M+H Show will also provide the opportunity of one-to-one chats with sector leaders in the Ask the Expert zone, which offers a free and easy way to get specific advice from eight key organisations in the sector including:

Arts Council England
Association for Heritage Interpretation
Association of Independent Museums
Colin Mulberg Consulting
Collections Trust
Culture24
Group for Education in Museums
Heritage Volunteering Group
Kids in Museums
London Heritage Holunteer Managers Network

A major part of the M+H Show will be the opportunity for visitors to discover new products and services from the more than 160 supplier and expert stands that will be showcasing the latest developments. Many of these stands will be offering masterclasses and demonstrations. As part of this area of the Show there will also be a retail zone complemented by retail talks curated in partnership with Stephen Spencer & Associates.

And for the third year running there will be the chance for one organisation to win the £1,000 M+H Show Prize Fund. Previous winners include The Almonry Museum in Evesham, which created a selection of photography albums from its archive to be used by community groups, including Alzheimer’s Society, and The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, which used the money to buy equipment for its relaxed openings for people with autism and their families.

The Museums + Heritage Show is free. To attend register here. Click here to view the Show Preview and see everything that’s happening at the 2018 Show.

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Register for the Museums + Heritage Show 2018

The Museums + Heritage Show is free. To attend register here.