Museum Work: Hierarchies and Barriers, Exclusion and Inclusion

Date / time: 6 March, 12:00 am

Museum Work: Hierarchies and Barriers, Exclusion and Inclusion Workshop

23 May 2023 | 10 am – 5 pm | Venue: Birkbeck, University of London

Call for Papers, deadline – 6 March 2023

The Making Museum Professionals network responds to growing campaigns in the museum sector for fairer recruitment and career structures. Across the world, campaign groups have highlighted the systems of inequality facing many of those working in and with museums. This new network will support such campaigns for fairness, inclusion and transparency, by investigating the historical roots of the museum professions and the structures that supported them, from the birth of the modern museum (c. 1850) to the present day.

The network’s opening workshop, ‘Museum Work: Hierarchies and Barriers, Exclusion and Inclusion’ will take place in-person at Birkbeck in May 2023. It will consider particularly how hierarchies within and barriers to museum work have developed historically and are in evidence today, and how such hierarchies were and continue to be challenged and negotiated by those excluded and disempowered by museums.

We are currently seeking proposals for the first workshop, for short presentations from museum practitioners and scholars working on museum history or practice, on topics relating to hierarchies, barriers and inclusion/exclusion in museum work, from a historical or contemporary perspective. Proposals might address:

  • How have hierarchies of class, disability, gender, race and sexuality impacted on the museum workforce, paid and unpaid
  • Have they worked equally at different types of organisation?How have processes of professionalisation acted to include and exclude different groups?
  • How might these processes be reversed, mitigated or reimagined?
  • The often-derogatory term ‘amateur’ has often been used to reinforce museum workforce hierarchies but this masks the important contributions volunteers and other unpaid specialists have made to the sector. What are the characteristics of such practitioners and how has this group developed historically?

Deadline for proposals is 6 March 2023. The full CFP and more information about the network as a whole is available at

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