Conference: Museums as Agents of Change
Thursday 30 November 2017 to Friday 01 December 2017
Athens & Thessaloniki

Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion

Museums and cultural institutions can change people’s lives. They are pillars of healthy communities and ideal spaces to connect people. As communities of all sizes around the globe address issues of immigration, religious expression, discrimination, gender identity and the equal treatment of all people, the commitment of museums to diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion has never been more important.

The social impact of museums and their role in promoting social inclusion and cohesion is directly linked with their audience engagement, their funding streams and their sustainability.

Understanding accessibility as a creative challenge, this year’s Museum Conference will explore how inclusiveness and sustainable development involve constantly adapting and diversifying practices, programmes and services, building on and often surpassing the museum’s traditional role of preserving collections and sharing them with the public. Social value generates economic value; when museums become gateways for understanding, they can affect prosperity and enhance quality of life for society as a whole.

The conference aims to bring together museum and cultural professionals from Greece, the U.S. and the UK to discuss experiences and best practices and explore issues such as:

  • What place should the museum occupy in the rapidly changing landscape of social inclusion policies?
  • Who comes and does not come to museums? How do museums attract and retain diverse audiences across borders and categories of sex, race, ethnicity, beliefs, age, class, ability, language, sexual orientation, and gender roles and identity?
  • How can museums give voice to underprivileged groups and be places of creative exchange and open dialogue?
  • How can cultural institutions ensure that all audiences can access their programmes, collections and resources? How do we make accessibility a lifelong process for museums and cultural organisations that goes beyond compliance with basic building standards?
  • How can museums empower community through museum outreach programmes (e.g. in hospitals, elderly homes and prisons)?
  • What are the new technologies and digital tools that can assist museums with addressing different forms of disability, including restricted mobility, sight and hearing impairments, learning challenges, age and mental health restrictions?
  • How do museums become diverse, accessible and inclusive within their organisation?
  • What are the key partnership with other organisations – other cultural institutions, public and private entities, non-profits and businesses – that museums can foster to become more diverse and also grow their audience and funding base?
  • How do museums sustain traditional supporters and at the same time diversify donors as they adapt to changing demographics?

UK and U.S. Speakers

  • Sarah Plumb (UK) is a Research Associate at the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK. The RCMG’s focus is to develop research that stimulates new thinking and creative practice that enables cultural organisations to become more ambitious and impactful in nurturing more equitable and inclusive societies. Before joining the University of Leicester, Sarah worked as a museum and gallery educator for over twelve years, specialising in working with marginalised groups and individuals.
  • Matt and Jess Turtle (UK) are the co-founders of the UK’s first Museum of Homelessness, which is being developed by people from all walks of life, including – and in particular – those who have been homeless. As well as developing the Museum of Homelessness (MoH), Jess works on the Policy and Programmes team at the Museums Association, running their Transformers programme for mid-career museum professionals who want to make radical change in their museum. Jess is also the Chair of Trustees for the Simon Community, a homelessness charity in London, and sits on Battersea Arts Centre’s heritage committee. Matt currently works full-time on the MoH but has previously worked in programming and education roles for the Design Museum, Open House London, Crafts Council and the Royal Academy of Arts. He has an MA in Curating Contemporary Design. Matt and Jess are visiting tutors at the University of Essex and Kings College, London.
  • Nicole Ivy (USA) is the inaugural Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums. A professional futurist and a historical thinker, Nicole is passionate about the arts and social change, having begun her work in the museum field as an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Graduate Fellow at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. She recently completed her tenure as a Museum Futurist and Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow with the Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums (CFM). In addition to her work in the museum field, Nicole has held numerous academic appointments.
  • Georgia Krantz (USA) is an independent accessibility trainer and consultant. The bulk of her professional career has been spent in New York City, where she works with museums and other cultural institutions to develop accommodations for people with disabilities. As a veteran educator, Georgia also specialises in teaching art to people who are blind or have low vision. As an art historian, she has developed courses that explore relationships between art, sight and blindness. Georgia currently works in education and accessibility at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and New York University, all in New York City, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. She worked for many years in education and access at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Simultaneous interpretation into Greek and English will be provided.

Admission is free following online registration.


When Thursday 30 November 2017, 09.00–17.00
Where Benaki Museum (Amphitheatre)
138 Pireos Street
118 54 Athens
Conference registration
Workshop registration
Live stream
Recorded sessions

The conference is co-organised with the Benaki Museum, the Embassy of the United States and the British Embassy, with the support of Athens Culture Net under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens.


When Friday 1 December 2017, 09.00–14.30
Workshop sessions: 15.00–17.00
Where Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
154 Egnatia Street (Helexpo)
546 36 Thessaloniki
Conference registration
Workshop registration

The conference is co-organised with the United States mission in Greece, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and the British Embassy under the auspices of the Municipality of Thessaloniki.


For further information, please contact Maria Papaioannou:

Telephone 210 369 2336