Conference host and keynote speakers announced for MA Conference and Exhibition 2018 (Conference)

Posted: Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Museums Association (MA)has announced the host and keynote speakers for this year’s Museums Association Conference & Exhibition in Belfast on 8-10 November 2018.

Under the theme, Dissent: Inspiring Hope - Embracing Change, the MA is working with museums across Ireland and is running this conference in collaboration with the Irish Museums Association.

Conference host Roisín Higgins is historian and a senior lecturer in history at Teesside University.

A founding director of the Irish Association of Professional Historians, she has written extensively on the Easter Rising commemorations, including her award-winning book Transforming 1916, which looks at the how the events were remembered on the 50th anniversary in 1966. Higgins was an historical adviser on the GPO Witness History visitor centre, which opened in Dublin in 2016 to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, and is the leader of Dear Mrs Pennyman, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund that is shining a light on letters written by women whose husbands, sons and brothers were killed in action during the first world war. She was one of the curators for the public history project, National Treasures, a collaboration between RTÉ, the National Museum of Ireland and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Keynote Rita Ann Higgins is an award-winning Irish poet and playwright.

Born in Galway and began writing poetry in her 20s after being hospitalised with tuberculosis. She is one of 13 children in her family, and left school aged 14. Higgins has published 11 books of poetry as well as a memoir, Hurting God. Her plays include The Empty Frame, about Hanna Greally, an Irish writer who was detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will for almost two decades in the 1940s and 1950s. Higgins has also recently written two short films in Irish.

Laura Raicovich, a champion of socially engaged art practices, will also be a keynote speaker at the Museums Association (MA) Conference & Exhibition in Belfast.

Until recently, Raicovich was the president and executive director of the Queens Museum in New York, where she oversaw an ambitious programme of exhibitions, events and activities.  Prior to Queens Museum, Raicovich was the director of Global Initiatives at Creative Time, which commissions and presents public art projects worldwide. Raicovich also spent a decade at Dia Art Foundation, where she was the deputy director. Prior to that, she worked at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Public Art Fund, and New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. Raicovich is also a writer and her books include Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production, which addressed the role of activism in culture. She is currently writing a book about neutrality in museums.

The Directors in Conversation session at this year's annual conference in Belfast on 8-10 November will feature Lynn Scarff, the recently appointed director of the National Museum of Ireland; Hilary McGrady, who became the director-general of the National Trust this year; Kathryn Thomson, the chief executive officer and director of National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI); and Kim Streets, the chief executive of Museums Sheffield.


A special rate to register for the Museums Association conference 2018 is available for IMA and NIMC members. The early bird booking rate runs until the 20 August 2018 and provides a substantial discount on regular rate with access to the conference from £150 for a single day and £220 for the full conference.

The MA also offers subsidised places for smaller museums that are members of the MA - these are limited to 50 places so early booking is advised.

Click here for further information.