A guest post from Cat Lumb, Secondary and Post-16 Humanities Co-ordinator
On Monday 1st October Manchester Museum closed its doors for only the second day of this year (previously only closed on New Years Day), for an All Staff Day; giving the whole museum a chance to briefly pause, take stock, and prepare for the time ahead. After our farewell celebration for the Ancient Worlds galleries on 20th September, the All Staff Day marked the next phase of the Museum’s transformation; from 2nd October we operate with just the Natural History galleries open to the public.
The All Staff Day was a great opportunity for everyone to work together to produce a shared understanding of our work as we move forward and embark on our hello future journey.
Throughout the day there was a clear emphasis on our Museum mission to promote understanding between cultures and develop a sustainable world. Our Director was keen to update the current language we use to make it a more active message to emphasise how we are building understanding between cultures, not just promoting it. What a difference a word makes! We also reflected on our vision to be a museum of inclusion, care and imagination, and how we can truly step forward into this. It will be vital that we are consistently improving our activity to ensure we live up to our high standards, without being afraid of the risk to do so.
The first activity of our Staff Day was a training session by Manchester Refugee Support Network who provided us with greater awareness of the process in becoming a Refugee in the UK. It was emotive material – with Sophia and Belay speaking honestly about the many stories they have encountered, as well as their own personal experiences. Many staff came away from this with a renewed determination to support such valuable organisations in our community in the best way we can.
After lunch, we went on to have a focused afternoon around our hello future plans, thinking about what we can each contribute to the programme of events and exhibitions we have to look forward to in 2021. This includes not only our South Asia Gallery, Chinese Culture Gallery, a new entrance, and Exhibition Hall, but also our ambition for the Centre for Age Friendly Culture in Manchester.
Finally, as has become the tradition now, we all got together for a staff photograph – just next to where our new entrance will emerge by 2021. One thing’s for sure, it’s exciting times ahead and they’ve only just begun!