October 20, 2020

MAC conference in Cayman


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delegates-from-the-mac-2016-conference-agmMuseums Conference in the explores the role of the cultural and heritage sector in the

From The of the Cayman Islands

27th Annual General Meeting and Conference
The Essential Museum – Redefining the role of the cultural and heritage sector for 21st century audiences.
9-12 October 2016
National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

For three consecutive days from October 9 -12, The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) was host to the 27th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (), welcoming delegates from across the Caribbean, UK, Canada, and USA. Over 80 persons participated including leading museum and heritage sector specialists, academics, curators, educators, cultural consultants, in addition to Cayman Islands’ emerging museum professionals, interns and CIFEC students. Established in 1987, MAC serves as a key forum for the interchange of information and ideas for the cultural sector through meetings, publications and museum exchanges.

A first regional arts conference for NGCI, it offered a unique opportunity for local cultural and tourism professionals to engage in the latest sector developments, and to network with regional colleagues. The conference theme, The Essential Museum – Redefining the role of the cultural and heritage sector for 21st century audiences, was selected by NGCI to address the evolving role that cultural entities can play within their communities. Presentations explored and questioned how museums, galleries and heritage sites can define and demonstrate public value in the modern age; how institutions can play integral roles in civic engagement, education, research, stewardship, and social change; how they can best serve their diverse audiences; and how the digital realm can help open up access for hard-to-reach communities.

During his welcome speech, Councillor Roy McTaggart Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, speaking on behalf of the Premier of the Cayman Islands and Minister for Home Affairs, Health and Culture Hon. Alden McLaughlin, commented, “These are exciting times for those of us who have a strong desire to preserve our culture and heritage through the arts while forging ahead in the modern age. The theme for this conference, The Essential Museum, gives us every opportunity to come up with innovative ways to demonstrate our public value in the modern age.”

A special keynote panel consisting of three Caribbean museum directors; Dr. Veerle Poupeye, Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica, Amanda Coulson, Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and Natalie Urquhart, Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands was held to address some of the critical questions outlined in the conference’s theme and discuss special projects happening at these institutions.

NGCI also welcomed delegates from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) who recently opened their doors in Washington DC. to some 103,000 people in the museum’s first ten days. Presenters, Joanne Hyppolite NMAAHC Curator, Michele Gates Moresi, NMAAHC Supervisory Museum Curator of Collections and Mary Elliott, NMAAHC Museum Specialist spoke about the strategies the museum had employed to engage communities across the country, as well as internationally, in its collections building and care initiatives. It also examined how the museum defined its ongoing collecting role in the response to activism and unfolding social justice issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

“With over twenty thought provoking presentations and a series of visits to leading cultural and heritage sites, it has been an inspiring and informative few days for all participants,” said NGCI Director Natalie Urquart. “Importantly it has helped to expand opportunities for continued inter-regional dialogue, to create new synergies between local organisations, as well as providing professional development for all of us working in the cultural, arts and heritage sector in Cayman Islands.”

The conference was also designed to include encourage dialogue between generations of museum and heritage sector audiences, and to provide support for emerging professionals and Caymanian students interested in the field. The Emerging Museum Professionals Sessions saw presentations by junior staff and interns from the National Gallery and the National Museum. In addition, scholarships were extended to students from CIFEC, UCCI and ICCI through the National Gallery’s Creative Careers programme, which provides internship opportunities and career support for young Caymanians with an interest in creative sector careers. “It was a priority for us to ensure access to young people interested in working in the creative sector and to invite them to join the dialogue around what The Essential Museum looks like. Millennial museum-goers are looking for a very different experience and they have some amazing ideas.” said Mrs Urquhart.

MAC President, Dr. Sherene James-Williamson remarked, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of MAC we wish to thank the National Gallery for hosting this year’s conference and AGM. The melting pot of ideas, age groups and cultural and heritage practitioner’s speakers to the diversity of our region and the direction in which MAC would like to go and made for a truly energising conference.”

The next iteration of the conference is scheduled to be jointly hosted by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture (SMAAHC) and the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) in Miami from 21-25 October, 2016. Says Dr James- Williamson. “We are excited and energized by the conversations started in Cayman and by our newest partnership and the host of the 2017 MAC conference and AGM the SMAAHC and AAAM. The multicultural event that is being generated and the potential opportunities that are afforded us due to our shared heritage are tremendous.”

The MAC conference has been made possible via sponsorship from The Ministry of Health & Culture, Susan A. Olde, OBE, International Financial Planning (Cayman) Ltd., the Cayman Islands National Museum and Cayman Airways, with support from Kirk Market, Better Angle Photography, Casanovas, Massive, Island Supply, Cayman Turtle Centre, Minds Eye, Pedro St James and Mission House. Special accommodation rates have been provided by Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman and transportation has been kindly subsidised by Webster Tours.


Photo 1: MAC delegates gather at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands
Photo 2: CIFEC students (L-R) Shanique Frater and Rhiana Williams
Photo 3: Keynote – Dr Veerle Poupeye Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica, Amanda Coulson Director of the National Art Gallery of Bahamas, Natalie Urquhart Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, Sherene James-Williamson, President of the Museums Association of the Caribbean

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