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Global culture leaders join forces to ask what the role of museums is in a 21st-century post-Covid world


What's the role of museums in a post-Covid world? What can a civic museum be in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement? And how can cultural institutions become part of the everyday fabric of city life and its paradoxes? These and other vital questions about the evolving power relationships between urban museums, their local neighbourhoods and the people that live there will be discussed by leading experts at a two-day international symposium, Museums, Cities, Cultural Power held on 24 and 25 June 2021 and free to join in online.

The symposium will showcase museum development projects from the UK and across the world – from Barcelona to Cape Town – and will provide a sneak peek at one of Europe’s largest capital projects: the Museum of London's £300 million transformation project, building a new home in the city's historic West Smithfield neighbourhood.

Led by Brunel University London, in partnership with the Museum of London and UCL Urban Laboratory, the Museums, Cities, Cultural Power global symposium will bring together an exciting range of leading international speakers – museum and culture professionals, academics, urbanists, architects and activists – in live panel sessions, presentations and workshops to explore the impact of large-scale cultural developments on cities and the people who inhabit them.

Taking place online on the evening of Thursday 24 June and all day Friday 25 June, the event is open to everyone, from drop-in bitesize sessions to taking in the whole symposium.

"The social and cultural changes and challenges we've experienced in recent years, including as a result of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, mean that it's increasingly urgent to discuss and analyse the civic roles of museums in London and in cities worldwide," said Dr Monica Degen, the symposium's organiser, and Reader in Cultural Sociology at Brunel.

"The debates we'll have at the symposium are vital for us to understand how museums reflect, represent and be of value to a wide cross-section of society, and so will provide pointers for the future role of cultural institutions in and for our cities."

Lauren Parker, Head of Creative Partnerships, Museum of London, said: “As we work towards building a new museum for London, we are deep into these urgent conversations about the place of, and role, museums should now play in the life of our cities.

“The world has changed dramatically and we can no longer remain silent witnesses to the past but must be active and challenging spaces that welcome debate and new ideas. The incredible line-up at Museums, Cities, Cultural Power will spark some lively and urgent conversations, offering new ways of thinking as we look ahead to a post-Covid world.”

  • Museums, Cities, Cultural Power is a free, two-day symposium taking place online on Thursday 24 (17:30-20:00 BST) and Friday 25 June 2021 (10:00-17:45 BST). Tickets are available from Eventbrite
  • For further information and the full programme, visit the symposium website.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268821