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Museopunks Episode 24: Institutional Bravery

Category: Influence of Museums

Increasingly, it feels like progressive museum practice is also political museum practice. So what does it mean for a museum to take a stand, and put social justice at the heart of its work? In this episode, Suse talks with David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool (NML) and President of the UK Museums Association, about the social impact of museum work, advocacy as a strategic objective, and what it means for a museum service to be openly political.

Plus, news about some big changes to the podcast! And quiet snorts from a new baby softly echoing throughout the interview.


David FlemingHeadshot of a man wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera slight smile with short dark brown hair.

David Fleming OBE MA PhD AMA became Director of National Museums Liverpool (NML) in 2001, since when NML audiences have risen from 700,000 to more than 3 million per year. David has been responsible for the creation of two influential museums, the International Slavery Museum in 2007, and the Museum of Liverpool in 2011.

He has advised governments, national museums and municipalities in countries such as Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway.

David is President of the UK Museums Association, a member of ICOM’s Ethics Committee and Founding President of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM).

He has written extensively and lectured in more than 40 countries on management and leadership, city history museums, social inclusion, human rights, politics, and museum ethics.

Show Notes

National Museums Liverpool

The Political Museum

Museums and Difficult Issues

National Museums Liverpool – Strategic Plan 2016-2019

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Graphic Design of the Museopunks logo is by Selena Robleto.

Museopunks is presented by the American Alliance of Museums.
Twitter: @museopunks

Read the Transcript

Suse Anderson: Good day, and welcome to Museopunks, the podcast for the progressive museum. My name is Suse and I’m going to be your host today as we dive into the subject of institutional bravery. We’re going to be focusing on the National Museums Liverpool whose mission is to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service. Lofty goals indeed, but before we go any further, I should say a couple of notes about some changes that the last several months have brought. Our last episode went online in the mid-September 2017, and focused on the gendered museum. That investigation was in part inspired by a big change that I was about to go through in becoming a mother. Something that happened less than a week after we posted the episode, but it’s not the only big change that’s happened to the Museopunks family in recent months.

Jeffrey Inscho, my dear friend and collaborator and co-host of this show, has taken a new job. It’s one outside of museums and away from the cultural technology space. In doing so, Jeffrey is moving onto the next chapter of his professional life, which includes stepping away from Museopunks. I’m sure that that doesn’t mean it’s the last we’re going to hear from Jeffrey. In fact, I already have plans to bring him on as a guest in a future episode, but it does mean that we will have few changes to the shape, feel, and format of the podcast moving forward.

In the next few months, I’m hoping to invite a few guest hosts to join me on the program, bringing their expertise and their questions along with them, to expand the ways that we dig into progressive museum practice in all its forms. Until then, you’re likely to be stuck with me running solo and figuring out how to do all of the editing, and technical sides of podcasting that Jeffrey always took care of. This will be a leaner operation for at least a little while, but we were founded on a DIY attitude that preferred scrappy passion over perfection.
So, I hope you will stick with me as we continue to develop along that path. For now, let’s dig into the topic of institutional bravery. A topic that Jeffrey was excited to investigate and who prompted us to look into this idea. What does it mean to be brave and to openly take a stance as a museum? What are the implications it has on funding and audience? I’m thrilled to talk to David, director, National Museums Liverpool, about this very topic.

David, OBE, MA, PhD, AMA, became director of National Museums Liverpool, NML, in 2001. Since then, NML audiences have risen from 700,000 to more than 3 million per year. And David has been responsible for the creation of two influential museums, the International Slavery Museum in 2007, and the Museum of Liverpool in 2011. He’s advised governments, national museums, and municipalities in countries such as Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway.
David is president of the UK Museums Association, a member of ICOM’s Ethics Committee, and founding president of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums. He’s written extensively, and lectured worldwide in more than forty countries on management and leadership, city history museums, social inclusion, human rights, politics, and museum ethics. David, welcome to Museopunks.

David Fleming: Hi. Well, I’m very glad to be here, Suse.

Suse: It is so great to have you here. I met you some years ago at the ICOM conference that was held in Sydney. And your talk at that conference has absolutely stayed with me in the coming years, which was on the political museum. And so, when Jeffrey and I was thinking about this idea of institutional bravery, you were immediately the person who came to my mind as someone who I thought would be able to give us some good insight into that topic.

David: Okay. Well, I’ll do my best.

Suse: I have absolute faith in you. But I think before we dive into some of the really meaty questions, I’d love if you could tell a little bit more about the National Museums Liverpool, and what the organization is and its structure cause I know that you have a number of different institutions that fall under that purview.

David: Yes. We’re a national museum service and unusually not based in London, but in a regional English city.

Suse: Hmm.

David: …that’s because historically, we were probably the biggest of all the English municipal museum services. Consequently have a universal role, if I can use that term …

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: … without bursting into laughter.

Suse: (laughs)

David: …which means that we cover just about every subject and discipline anybody, any normal person can possibly imagine. We were nationalized for political reasons in the 1980s.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: So in fact, have had the benefit of government funding ever since that time, which has probably meant that we have more money than we would have if we had stayed with Liverpool City Council. Of course, that’s with the benefit of hindsight. I’m not sure about that, but I would imagine that’s the case.

Suse: (laughs)

David: So we do run eight different museums here in Liverpool.

Suse: Uh-huh.

David: World Museum which contain natural sciences, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, ancient Egyptian, science and astronomy, and a mixture of collections. We have an aquarium. We have a planetarium here. So, it’s one of the classic, traditional, municipal type museums that we have here in the UK, but we also have several art galleries. We have a maritime museum. We have the slavery museum, the Museum of Liverpool, which looks at, the social history of the city. And so on, so we cover lots of different disciplines right across …

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: … the board.

Suse: One of the things that I think is really interesting about the National Museums Liverpool is your mission, which is to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service. Which I think is a rather stunning statement of purpose. Can you share with us a little bit more about how that mission came to be?

David: Yes. There’s a little bit of hubris in there, which is why we say we aim to be, you know. That we never consider that we’ve achieved everything that we want to achieve.

Suse: Right.

David: But we do think that we should set out an ambitious claim for what the museum is trying to do. And to be the world’s leading example of an inclusive museum service, to me, means that we have a genuine understanding of different needs that museums can help fulfill. So we’re particularly strong, for example, on looking at issues of any kind of disadvantaged minority. We try to make sure that there’s proper representation right across the museum service. We want to achieve diverse audiences, and by that I mean we want to make sure that we avoid the mistakes museums in the past made of being elitist …

Suse: Yeah.

David: … and only appealing to a narrow section of society. So we’re very, very conscious of that’s what museums used to be like, and that makes us particularly determined not to be like that anymore. It’s not acceptable nowadays.

Suse: Well, I think they’re incredible ideals and incredible values. How does that inform then the internal practices of the museums? So, decision making or governance or even hiring practices? Is it only outward facing or does it also come back into how the museums are seeking to actually run themselves?

David: It’s a very interesting point. I’d like to think that we were both outward facing and inward facing too, but I am assured that while most of our team here regard us as, genuine and successful in trying to achieve diversity in terms of audiences, we’re less so internally.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: … and this is clearly a source of worry to me that it’s all right being a diverse and inclusive museum service in the eyes of the rest of the world, but you know, we need our own people here to think that we achieve the same thing.
Now, I think that’s what we are. I think that’s what we’re trying to do, but obviously there’s many things that we need to do differently …

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: … in order to convince everybody else here that that’s the case.

Suse: Yeah. I think it’s coming to some of the problems and the challenges that the sector, as a whole is facing at the moment, is really trying to think about how we are inward looking as well as outward looking. That said, in terms of the outward looking aspects, I know your strategic plan for 2016 to 2019 lists advocacy as one of the institution’s core strategic objectives.
Has creating a social impact always been a concern at the National Museums Liverpool? Or did that evolve over time and if it did, what were the forces that were really prompting this kind of outward advocacy, sort of, face for the institution?

David: That’s a very tricky one to answer because I don’t want to sound as though, things changed when I came here, but the role of museum directors is quite key …

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: … and often understated. You know, they exert a great deal of influence over their institutions, good, bad and indifferent. I’m not suggesting (laughing) everything is wonderful.

Suse: Right.

David: And what … I came here absolutely fired up with a desire to make NML the world’s most inclusive museum service. And you need that kind of stubbornness and determination to have a hope in hell of bringing something like that about. I think NML when I came here, I mean, it did have audiences of about 3/4 of a million a year. I think it did lots of things very well. And I think it didn’t have big enough endeavors, enough audiences.

Suse: Yeah.

David: That’s something that I made very clear, when I came, that it would be my responsibility to address that. So it was a matter of identifying, well, what you need to do. But definitely the commitment of whoever’s in charge is absolutely key in these circumstances. And it’s something that we very, very often overlook.

Suse: Yeah. It makes me wonder, then, with your own belief and your own emphasis on the importance of museums being political, being activist … When did you start to believe that museums should be openly political, and should be seeking or campaigning for social justice?

David: I suppose it came about gradually, although to be fair, I went into museums in the 1980s rather naively thinking that they were places that were full of diversity.

Suse: (laughs)

David: Of course I discovered fairly quickly that they weren’t, but the whole point of my going into museums was that before then I had been an academic historian, you know, preaching to audiences of two or three about all the things I believed in.

Suse: (laughing) Yes.

David: Which is the fate of many academic historians. And I actually wanted to go into a sector that had a big public and, you know, an audience that were on the end of what I wanted to say. And what I wanted to say was that normal people’s history was just as important as the extraordinary stuff that I’d been taught about at school. I thought I was going into a sector whereby, wherein people like my parents and my sister who left school very young …

Suse: Yeah.

David: And without being particularly, as we would say, educationally fulfilled, that they could go to museums as adults and still find fulfillment. And of course, as I realized I was being delusional because museums were not for people like them. They weren’t for people that had had a poor education. They were mostly created by people with a good education for people with a good education. So …

Suse: Yes

David: … my mission right from day one was always to try to do something about that. When I say day one, I suppose what I really mean is when as soon as I realized, when I started working in the local authority museums sector, that museums generally didn’t appeal to most people, most of the time. I thought that was a big problem for us.

Suse: Yeah. It’s funny you sort of speaking about that formative experience. I too went into museums thinking they were incredibly, progressive spaces and that this is where ideas really came into fruition, sort of, particularly from an artistic perspective. And it was very interesting for me to learn that wasn’t always the case, that institutions themselves are often much more conservative than, I think, sometimes you think about from the outside.

David: I think that’s the case. I mean, what I realized was that lot of people with marvelous, wonderful, brilliant, curatorial skills, and not necessarily brilliant communicators. And somehow or other, you have to bridge the gap between the, you know, the scholarship and people who are not scholars, people who are thirsty for knowledge, and thirsty for information, and entertainment and excitement. But you need a real range of communicative skills in order to be able to bridge that gap, and it was something that, people need to make happen in museums.

It just doesn’t happen by osmosis. It doesn’t happen by itself. You know, we have to work really hard – it’s really having proper respect for the different skillsets that we need in museums because we are great engines of communication. We’re not just engines of scholarship. So I don’t want to be overly critical of what NML was like. It was full of great things, but there was still things missing, I felt, when I came here. And the missing things were those things that would connect us as a great museum service with most people, most of the time, which is really what our mission is all about.

Suse: I really love that you mention not just entertainment, but excitement, the idea that a museum can be exciting because I think often working in the sector we’re quite excited by things that we see and do, but I’m not necessarily sure that a lot of my friends or family would think of a museums as an exciting place to be. They might enjoy it but not necessarily find it exciting.

David: What one of the key insights, which I kind of had was when I realized that museums actually need to be very emotional places if they are to connect with most people, most of the time.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: And the traditional museum was a very dispassionate place that didn’t really do emotional things. It did scholarly things, and it did scholarly things in a fairly dry way, which might appeal to some people but doesn’t appeal to most people, most of the time. So we have to unlock that emotion that is locked up in lots of the collections. And my particular route into all this kind of thing was through social histories, through literally – the history of ordinary people which is very easy to get excited about, but somebody has to actually, you know, put time and effort in to make it look that way. Otherwise, it’s just dry, boring history. The kind that many of us had to endure that when we were at school.

Suse: (laughs) Yeah. I can see that. I think this idea of different communication styles and, sort of, different ways of bringing audiences in is really important. One of the things I love, I remember hearing you talk or seeing a video about you talking about the design of the Museum of Liverpool, where the visitors land in the center of the museums rather than, sort of, being brought in on a linear journey. And it strikes me that those design choices and those ideas might be also important for this idea of how people aren’t themselves, but also how they place themselves in the space.

David: Yeah, it’s true that when we were conceiving the Museum of Liverpool, I remember speaking to some master planning people that were, you know trying to get us, to help sort out our ideas. And I drew a little stick person going into a box marked M for museum, and the stick person went in with one head and came out with two heads.

Suse: (laughs)

David: And it was kind of a metaphor for the kind of impact that I felt a museum needed to have. And it’s certainly true that we wanted people to arrive in the center of the museum rather than have to go through the process of turning up at the front door, wandering around a prescriptive path, and then coming out again, you know, of the front door, via the shop and all that kind of thing, because that’s not necessarily the way people’s brains work. And in practical terms, a museum that has a story, that’s has a beginning, a middle, and an end, it doesn’t always work like that, you know … It is not an examination course. We’re not expecting people to emerge from the museums and be experts in what they’ve just seen and to take and examination and get a qualification …

We’re simply there to try and stimulate thought and get people, maybe, thinking about things that they hadn’t thought about before. And you don’t necessarily do that by having prescriptive linear routes. You do it by showing them, you know, just light and shade, and evoking emotions and giving impressions and symbols rather than necessarily answers and so called truths. And I think that’s the big difference between what a modern museums tries to do and what the old fashioned traditional 19th century museum used to try to do.

You know it’s much more didactic and searching for eternal truths. And I have to say that those eternal truths, if they are there, it’s not … I’m necessarily the person to be (laughs) you know, trying to find them on people’s behalf, but I would like to think that if I’m good at my job, I do end up with audiences that are able to think a little bit more broadly about how they fit into the world.

Suse: That’s fantastic. When you talk to other directors or senior staff around the sector, do you find that they have similar perspectives, similar thoughts around these ideas, what I’m calling institutional bravery, but these notions of activist museums and the emotive power of the museum … And in fact even just that notion of telling everyone’s stories as opposed to just capital sort of important stories.

David: I think that’s a lot more likely nowadays than it used to be.

Suse: Yeah.

David: I think the museum sector is stuffed full of people who really want museums to be impactful on as many people as possible. One of the problems that we’ve got nowadays is that everybody is becoming so obsessed with the resources that we’ve got, or the shrinking resources, that they end up sounding like a gang of accountants rather than a gang of people that are there to help make the world a different, you know, more imaginative place. And, that is a bit of a constraint on everybody, but I think – it would be fair to say I do discover many more instances nowadays of people that are desperate to make the museum work, rather than conforming to some strange 19th century model of what a museum used to be like.
There are still people like that around. Though, having said that, let’s not get too carried away …

Suse: Right.

David: … with thinking about that. You know, museums are now in a better place than they used to be. Many, many, many of them are, not all of them.

Suse: Well, you just mentioned funding. How do you make, then, the political argument and the economic argument for inclusive museum work? I know that politicians, funders would often be concerned with the economic arguments rather than, say the value-driven arguments. So how do you really get that point of inclusivity and access across in a political or economic sense?

David: It’s a tricky one, but I’ve never yet met a politician that didn’t want to be able to demonstrate that good value is being achieved from the monies that they were responsible for.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: And it’s just the same in museums, if they’re for better by that token, to be perceived to be impactful with big, diverse audiences than it is to be not impactful with small, elitist audiences. And it doesn’t matter what your politics are – to think that it’s good to be able to demonstrate that money is being well spent. So the key to gaining that kind of respect and support, and hopefully, protecting the funding as best you can in today’s difficult climate, is to be as good as you can be, is to make people appreciate that museums are important. They are impactful. They are popular and they are diverse, and they understand how the modern world works. It, therefore, needs us all to be a little bit more involved than perhaps we used to be. And coming out of that scullery box that museums used to place themselves in.

I mean, I think being scholarly, is very important. Don’t misunderstand me, but there’s got to be more than that if we’re looking for public support and public funding. It’s just got to be more than that nowadays.

Suse: What do you think, then, that the socio-economic circumstances in Liverpool have made more space for the kinds of work that you’re trying to do and the stories that you’re trying to tell in the National Museums Liverpool? Do you think that you’d be able to make the same argument for the need for inclusivity in, a bigger city such as London? Or do you think it … How much of that is local circumstances as well that allows for you to make those sorts of changes and tell those stories?

David: Well, yes … Good point because museums are very (laughs) easily, get themselves involved in worrying about visitors, tourist, and so on and so forth. And in fact, we see our core work here in Liverpool as being directed towards the needs of local people first and foremost. If you get that right and you produce great inventive, imaginative, and emotional museums, of course, visitors to the city want to come and see you.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: You become part of the tourist economy, but setting out to do that seems to me to be a rather bizarre way. It certainly wouldn’t appeal to me. It wouldn’t stimulate me. It wouldn’t be the kind of thing that I would be aiming to do, given a clean sheet, you know, to run a tourist attraction. That doesn’t have any appeal to me – at all. What does appeal to me is making museums work for local people, and Liverpool has been badly affected by economics over the years. So we have high unemployment, we have low education attainment.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: It’s a tough old part of the world. And I’ve often said if we can make museums work in Liverpool, you can make museums work anywhere. You know? It’s a bit of a glib thing to say because the UK is by comparison with many nations in the world, phenomenally wealthy.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: Nonetheless, there are people here, you know, living in grinding poverty, and – the day we forget that- that those are the kind of people that help make up part of our audience, is the day that we all pack it in and well, I don’t know. (laughs) Go work. Go work somewhere else really.

Suse: Yeah.

David: But that’s what makes successful museums. It’s having a really good sense of who your public can be, and respecting them and not thinking that you have to, for example, dumb down in order to make the connections. You don’t have to. I can’t think of a single example, anywhere in the world, where dumbing down has led to an increased diversity of audience. I can point to a number of instances where having not much of an intelligent message, stimulates lots of tourism. And I can think of a number of family based attractions that do that. You know, where there’s no particular message going on there.

Suse: Yeah.

David: It’s just entertainment and it just attracts high spending tourists. That’s not the business I think I’m in. I think I’m in a different business from that.

Suse: Yeah. I think that’s really interesting that- that concentrating on your local audience, and how you make sure that you’re telling stories they can relate to can actually speak much more broadly than that as well. That you then are speaking stories that become interesting and relevant to tourists because they’re seeking to find out about that area as well.

David: Of course they are. I mean, I remember when we were talking about setting up the International Slavery Museum, there were people in the tourist industry thinking, “Well, that’s not going to make Liverpool look very good. Who’s going to want to come and see something like that?” Well, the answer is loads of people.

Suse: Yeah.

David: Tourists are just as likely to want to go and see something challenging, and dangerous as it were, as subject matter, as they are to have to find out about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin, and so on and so forth. Absolutely just as likely, but we have to do more than simply do things in a scholarly way. We have to do them in a way that does help us compete with the world. The slightly less intelligent world of tourist attractions.

Suse: So being brave … I mean, you’re just sort of talking about things that are dangerous, dangerous ideas, dangerous content. Being brave often requires a person or an institution to choose a side with respect to an issue. It requires an opinion and, oftentimes, we find that museums seem to be hesitant or afraid to outwardly have an opinion for fear of alienating some of their constituency whether that’s visitors, whether that’s their funders, or their board, those who might disagree with such an opinion. How does NML approach this aspect of institutional bravery? Obviously, we know that museums are not neutral spaces, but how do you address the outward opinion or that way forward?

David: Yeah you have used the term “brave” and “bravery” a few times. I don’t use those terms.

Suse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David: I can see where you getting at, and I’m flattered that that’s what you think, but it’s not something that- that we set out … We don’t set out to be brave. We don’t set out to, you know, oppose orthodox ideas. But what we’re stubborn and very determined in trying to achieve impact and diversity. And if that makes us look brave, well, I suppose all well and good. But really, you know… How can I put this? The bravery, I suppose, if that’s the right word for it, is-tied up in tackling years and years and years of orthodox thinking.

Suse: Yes.

David: So I don’t necessarily consider it, you know … it’s a certain kind of emotional reaction and rejection of the way that many museums have set out to be over the years. And I think some people, you see, might say it’s foolhardy rather than brave to take on what you might call the establishment and to start saying things like, “Museums are not neutral, never have been neutral. They pretended to be neutral.”Maybe that’s brave? Maybe it’s a bit stupid? Maybe it’s a bit realistic? I’m not quite sure what it is. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that museums have dressed themselves up as neutral over the years, and it’s absolutely what they haven’t been.

That in no way can any museum justifiably describe itself as neutral, and you know, having a straight down the middle story about anything … We’re all full of biases, and opinions, and prejudices. And we apply those to our work in museums for good, bad, or indifferent, again. But if we could drop this fiction that somehow or other there’s … You can avoid controversy and still be a museum that’s worth its salt. Then we would be a lot more impactful as an entire sector.

And I think it comes because the worst part of a scholastic approach to life is to imagine that there are ultimate truths that avoid politics, and avoid opinion, and avoid danger, and darkness, and so on. And the real world’s not like that.

Suse: Yeah.

David: So, the challenge for me is for museums to be scholastic at the same time as making contact and making connections with people that are not scholastic. And that means not being, not pretending to be neutral about everything. But first time I ever encountered this neutrality was when I was working in the City of Hull in England in the 1980s. And my desire was to create an exhibition about the miner’s strike that was running at the time in that part of the world, Yorkshire. And I have to say that my own approach to it would have been pro-miner and a little bit more skeptical about what the police were doing at the time.

Suse: Mm.

David: But I was under real pressure to take a neutral line, and not take sides. And I felt, “Well, this isn’t real life, you know? What person out there, in their right mind, thinks that? That a museum is not entitled to have any kind of opinion about anything.” And I think it’s trying to tackle that head on that makes the modern museum work. That instead of seeking safety, in not expressing an opinion about anything. On the contrary, I think museums are bursting with opinions. It’s just that they’ve never really faced up to that in the past.

Suse: Does that mean, and I’m possibly being a little facetious here, but not entirely, does that mean museums should be seeking to have a little bit of controversy with their exhibitions? Should they actually be seeking out to rile someone up and to know that they’re actually making an impact and getting an emotional response?

David: I don’t think you need to seek out riling people up. I think if you try to analyze, some of the factors in society, you will cause controversy.

Suse: Mm.

David: If you’re dealing in human rights, it’s a very controversial area. You will be involved in arguments. There’ll be lots of people that don’t like anything to do with addressing issues of human rights. Whatever you say, there’ll be somebody out there that doesn’t like it. And I’ve often said to people that are working in the human rights field, “Listen, if you’re not up for the fight and the arguing, go work somewhere else. I’m not quite sure where it is that you’re suppose to go. But if you’re going to be in museums and you’re going to be working in areas like human rights, you will be involve in controversy. And you will be involved in politics. Get over yourself, and if you’re working here, that’s what’s going to happen.”

And I think that museums realizing that they are places of controversy rather than neutral safe places – that realization is becoming more and more widespread. And it has a very important impact on the kind of skills that we need in museums, you know, to be able to cope with that kind of thing. So there’s no point in just being an introverted scholastic type, and working in a museum and expecting the public to have a big response to you. They won’t. You’ve got to have better communication skills or have access to communication skills to make sure that those connections are being made. And facing up to the fact that we’re political, we’re not neutral. We are places of discourse, and debate, and dialogue, and controversy. Then that’s where we need to be.

Suse: David, that is fantastic. I think we will wrap it up just there, but thank you so much for coming on Museopunks. It has been enlightening to talk to you and I would recommend to anyone who is interested in your work that they go and find some of the recordings and speeches that you’ve done because there are many of them online and they are always inspirational.

David: That’s very kind of you to say but thank you. It’s been lovely to talk to you.

Suse: Thank you to David for joining me on Museopunks and sharing your insight into progressive museum practice. Since we recorded this interview, it’s actually been announced that David will be stepping down as director or NML in March taking up a new professorial role with the Liverpool Hope University. So this singular episode in Museopunks history has been a marker of change for everyone associated with it. And of course, I can’t sign off without saying a massive thank you to Jeffrey Inscho, my friend, my collaborator, my co-conspirator, making this podcast with you has been one of the highlights of my professional life.

When you first approached me back in 2013, to see whether I wanted to make a podcast with you, we barely knew each other beyond twitter chats, but I’m so glad you decided to reach out. I have gained so much from working with you from your thoughtful, creative ways of looking at museums and the world at large. I can’t wait to catch up with you the next time I’m in Pittsburgh. For anyone who wants to reach out to Jeffrey, you can do so on Twitter @jinscho. You can also connect with David on Twitter @doctordavidfleming. Museopunks is presented every month by the American Alliance of Museums. Drop me a line on twitter @Museopunks or check out the extended show notes at I’d love to hear your thoughts about all things progressive practice. And of course, you can subscribe to Museopunks at iTunes or SoundCloud.

Until next time…

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