Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Masterclass with Sandy Nairne, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery, 3 February 2016, Durham University
Following his successful and well-attended lecture titled ‘New Public Portraits: Icons and Idols at the National Portrait Gallery’, on Tuesday 2 February, writer and curator Sandy Nairne delivered an exclusive masterclass on working with museums, galleries, and arts organisations. The workshop formed part of CVAC’s impact-related training programme, “Working With Museums”.
Offering examples from his successful career-path, and in particular from his twelve-year experience as Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Nairne presented selected case studies outlining the evolving structure of museums and arts galleries, and in particular focused on changes regarding educational programmes, the format and function of exhibitions, governing structures and audiences.
In particular, Nairne’s masterclass addressed the ‘changing context’ of museums and galleries in relation to moving beyond the celebration and display of collections and instead investing in a more dialogic relationship with communities.
Addressing issues of institutional accountability, commercial viability and community programming, the masterclass explored the responsibility of museums and arts galleries towards audiences and communities, focusing on their role as active producers of knowledge and cultural experience.
The masterclass ended with an informal question and answer session, allowing participants to critically reflect on their own experiences and to further negotiate notions of spectatorship, accessibility, curatorial agency, and public engagement.
Nelli Stavropoulou February 2016