Let us Introduce: The Head of Collections and Programmes

My post is Head of Collections and Programmes, a fairly grand title meaning I manage and support staff and projects related to the museum’s 300, 000 objects; I also help guide the direction of 10 or so exhibitions each year, and many varied events. In addition, I oversee our learning, outreach activity and media team offer we provide to schools, families and community groups. Given the broad scope of my post, I can honestly say that no two days are the same. My time often involves talking to a wide spectrum of people who are very creative in their ideas and full of enthusiasm for the job they do.  In fact the Herbert is full of such people, but I also have the chance to talk to many colleagues in other museums around the region – I had a recent meeting with colleagues at Birmingham museum, for example, to talk about the future priorities for work on collections. 

I am currently on a panel organised by the Wolverhampton Art Gallery to consider how we spend an award from the Arts Council (England) towards the skills development of art curators in the region. This involves sending curators and learning staff to Contemporary Art exhibitions or festivals in the UK and beyond to pick up knowledge about artists and the latest contemporary art practice. I am aware that Contemporary Art sometimes has the reputation of being inaccessible to general audiences, but actually the right kind of art presented in the right way can engage audiences of all ages – look at the 45 million visitors who have visited Tate Modern since it opened a decade ago!

Closer to home, I am working with my colleagues Jess and Ben on the development of a reformed Friends organisation for the Herbert.  There was a relatively quiet re-launch of the Friends last month and we are now encouraging people to join – it’s a great opportunity to get much closer to the workings of the museum and experience unique cultural – and social- experiences.  We are putting together a Friends recruiting event for Night at the Museum on May 15th which will involve some fascinating talks and activities. 

I am also working on a major exhibition on ancient Egypt for 2011. I wouldn’t normally get so directly involved in the exhibition process but having been an Egyptologist in a former life (excuse the pun), I have the specialist knowledge and passion to do this. With my colleagues, I hope to produce a highly original and stimulating display of amazing objects from important institutions such as the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum. Secret Egypt will have its own regular blog postings shortly, so look out for that.

Chris Kirby, Head of Collections and Programmes

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Posted on 06/05/2010, in Collections and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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