Brave New World – Takeaways from the Museums Association annual conference 2021

I’ve worked in the museums sector for over a decade, and for the last several years, at some point each autumn, I’ve lurked among the twitter accounts of countless fellow museum professionals as they attend the annual Museums Association conference. In the very same week that the Curatours platform launched with the Museum of Plastic 2121, I was able to attend the physical conference in Liverpool, taking in sessions on decolonising collections, African cultural restitution and the role of museums in tackling the climate emergency. Much of the on-the-ground hosting was done by the Museums Liverpool team, who did an absolutely cracking job welcoming delegates both in-person and online.

The conference had a hybrid approach, with remote and physical speakers. Photo by Lauren Livesey.

After more than a year and half of only infrequently leaving my house, and rarely venturing outside of my hometown, it was a heady sensation to find myself in the ACC Liverpool with hundreds of fellow museum-folk. The programme was jam-packed – top tip for future attendees: drink LOTS of water and make sure to schedule in time to eat, as it is really easy to remain in perpetual motion from morning til night – but dedicated use of the conference app allowed me to plan out my calendar, browse the sponsors in the hall and still find time to chat with colleagues from across the museums sector. The knowledge that sessions were being streamed and available to watch again after the fact also helped to keep FOMO levels down to a minimum. I really hope that the hybrid physical/digital model that worked so well for this conference is retained for future years – the importance of museums continuing to programme both physically and digitally was a key takeaway from the sessions, so I can only assume that this approach will remain the default way for future conferences to operate.

It was great to see and hear about some of the many digital innovations being embraced by the sector, and to introduce the Curatours platform as a new home for digital exhibitions, tours and content. Early analysis from experts working within the field is pointing strongly to the huge amount of potential available when creating digital content, but early warning bells are being sounded about the fragmented way in which many institutions are sharing their digital outcomes – the lack of a central online space from which to access a wide variety of museum content means that many audiences are missing out on some incredible work.

Curatours is perfectly positioned to become the platform from which to access digital tours and events, and to share museum collections and their stories with audiences worldwide. We started some really exciting conversations in Liverpool, and look forward to continuing them post-conference. If you’d like to chat with us about bringing your digital content onto the Curatours platform, please just drop us an email on

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