Diane Lees, Director-General, Imperial War Museums to give IMA Annual White Lecture (Lecture)

Posted: Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Irish Museums Association (IMA) is happy to announce that Diane Lees, Director-General, Imperial War Museums, will be Guest Speaker at the Annual James White Memorial Lecture 2016, to take place at Kilmainham Gaol on Monday 28 November 2016.

How museums are responding to Ireland's decade of commemorations and the centenary of the First World War

The centenary of the First World War has deep meaning and significance for the Imperial War Museums, founded in 1917 while the war was still being fought. The IWM collections started with the generosity of those who donated their precious personal possessions - letters, diaries, moments, photographs - entrusting them to the museum in the hope that such modest yet unique items would engage future generations with the Great War. As this excerpt of the IWM founding statement illustrates, the founders were determined to collect material that could illustrate the common experience of war:

"It is hoped to make it so complete that every individual, man or woman, soldier, sailor, airman or civilian who contributed, however obscurely, to the final result may be able to find in these galleries, an example or illustration of the sacrifice he made or the work he did, and in the archives some record of it." Sir Alfred Mond's Statement of Purpose on the opening of the Imperial War Museum at the Crystal Palace, 9 June 1920

Director-General of the Imperial War Museums, Diane Lees, will share her insight into how IWM went about fulfilling the mission and ambitions of their founding principles, through the establishment of IWM's First World War Centenary Partnership in 2010; and the opening of new, permanent First World War Galleries in mid-2014. Diane will talk about the work of their global partnership network - with a particular focus on the lessons learnt from working closely with our partners in Ireland this year.

She will share thinking around the general approach taken in developing the new First World War Galleries, as well as some of the decisions taken to present the narrative in a fresh and novel way. IWM are marking this momentous anniversary in a digital age and Diane's talk will touch on some innovative digital projects embarked on, such as IWM's Lives of the First World War. Diane will also reflect on the legacy of the First World War Centenary Programme and the importance of keeping up the momentum of joint advocacy, and the valuable lessons that museums and cultural organisations have shared with each other through the Centenary Partnership network.


About our Guest Speaker

Diane Lees is the Director-General of Imperial War Museums, the cultural lead for the Centenary of the First World War, and is a Trustee of 14-18NOW, the Centenary's Cultural Programme.

Diane is a Trustee of the IWM Development Trust, The Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Trust, and the Army Museums Ogilby Trust. She serves as Vice President of the American Air Museum in Britain, is a member of the Women Leaders in Museums Network (WLMN), and sits on the Arts Council's external advice panel. Diane also sits on the judging panels of the Museums + Heritage Awards, and the CMI Book of the Year. She is a member of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust's Experts' Reference Group. Since May 2016, Diane has been chairing a review of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)'s Museums, Galleries and Collections Fund.

In April 2013, Diane was appointed Chair of the National Museum Directors' Council (NMDC) and continues to serve in this role. In April 2014, she was appointed to the University of Lincoln's Board of Governors and in January 2015, to the University of Oxford Humanities External Advisory Board. In December 2014, Diane was awarded a CBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list for services to museums, and in July 2015, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree by the University of Reading

About this event

The Annual James White Memorial Lecture in the autumn provides a forum for some of the most influential national and international contemporary museum professionals to speak on matters relating to museums. It is held in memory of Dr James White, who was one of the founders of the Irish Museums Association.

Past speakers at this prestigious event have included Philippe de Montebello, Director, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis, President of the Acropolis Museum, Athens; Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Dr Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain, London; Dr Michael Ryan, former Director of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin; Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth Gallery and of Manchester City Galleries; Dr Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and Dr Christopher Warleigh-Lack, Curator, Hillsborough Castle and Professor Sir Christopher Frayling.


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The Annual James White Memorial Lecture will take place on 28 November, 2016 at Kilmainham Gaol, supported by the Office of Public Works.