I've been Executive Director of Derby Museums since January 2014. Derby Museums includes Derby Silk Mill, the site of the world’s first factory and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Derby Museum and Art Gallery which contains the world’s finest collection of works by the 18th century artist Joseph Wright. I'm currently overseeing the creation of the UK's first Museum of Making, a £17m project at Derby Silk Mill Prior to that, I was director of the Museum of East Anglian Life for nine years, repositioning the organisation as a social enterprise and led a major capital development programme involving the restoration of a Queen Anne mansion and other historic buildings.
In 2011 I founded the Happy Museum Project, which is now an international movement and community of practice to exploring how museums could contribute to a society in which well-being and environmental sustainability were its principle values. Happy Museum has supported nearly 50 UK museums to develop projects which build mutual relationships with audiences and ‘steward the future as well as the past.’
I read History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University and have an MA in Museology from University of East Anglia. I am also Fellow of the National Arts Strategies chief executive programme in the US and a Fellow of the Museums Association. I'm a Trustee of the Might Creatives the lead agency for Cultural Learning in the East Midlands and chair of Members of Great Northwood Education Trust in Tulse Hill, London
Clore made me understand how civil society organisations activated people to make change. I spent time in organisations such as Coin Street community builders, Friends of the Earth and the New Economics Foundation. This has stretched my thinking as to the qualities needed by fairly slow-moving institutions to create the conditions for change within their place.
Clore's focus on values based leadership combined with an emphasis on entrepreneurialism helped frame my thinking of museums as social enterprises - flexible, opportunistic but with a profound sense of social purpose.
I've tried to pass on skills and learning . I continue to provide mentoring for emerging professionals. I work on a the principle of 'open source' sharing practice and co-producing work.
Happy Museum was driven principally by a desire to galvanise the museum sector to think differently and combine social and environmental justice. The project supported museums to make small interventions that might lead to systemic change in how their museum operates within their locality.
Derby's influential Human Centred Design framework has been co-produced with users and is available as an online 'open source'