Each year, AIM National Conference hosts an impressive line-up of speakers and heritage experts who give talks and lead breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics that are relevant to independent museums. This year’s conference – which runs June 18 – 20 at ss Great Britain in Bristol – is no different, and with thirty speakers and twelve breakout sessions taking place, we have been highlighting some of the speakers in a new series of interviews over the past few weeks to help give you a taste of what to expect this year.
The final speaker to enter the spotlight is Sara Brown. Sara is the Assistant Curator at Ely Museum in Cambridgeshire. After her MA in Museum Studies at Leicester she worked as Exhibitions Officer at Peterborough Museum, then as Collections Officer at the Cambridge and County Folk Museum. Sara has also worked at a number of other Cambridgeshire Museums in collections and administration roles, including Burwell Museum, Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at and The Stained Glass Museum.
Sara will be giving a talk during conference called ‘Retail Success at Ely Museum’ which will show how Ely Museum’s retail income has greatly increased over the past twelve months. She will explain how an AIM Sustainability grant helped them achieve this success, by creating an attractive shop with skilled staff and a more professional approach to retail.
AIM: Hi Sara, what can people expect from your talk at AIM conference this year?
SB: Ely Museum is a small museum with no dedicated retail staff and nobody with any experience running a shop. I will share our learning process and what worked for us, as well as what didn’t, including facts and figures and tips to take away.
AIM: What do you hope they will take away with them from your talk?
SB: Ideas to help improve the income of their shop on a small budget and the realisation that while there are skills and tricks to learn, a bit of common sense goes a long way.
AIM: Why do you think AIM conference is useful for UK independent museums?
SB: It’s very easy to be isolated in independent museums, particularly small ones, and we can all learn so much from sharing our experiences with one another. The conference is a great way to meet people from museums of all sizes, be inspired by what they are working on and remind ourselves that we are a vibrant and friendly sector.
AIM: What do you think makes independent museums so unique?
SB: Independent museums are able to respond to their audiences in interesting and flexible ways without being bound by the strictures that cause challenges to museums with other governance structures. This allows independent museums to be innovative. Many independent museums are also financially vulnerable which encourages creativity and original ideas.
AIM: What are you most looking forward to about AIM conference this year?
SB: It’s my first time attending this conference, so I’m looking forward to the whole experience, hearing the other speakers and having the opportunity to talk to people from other independent museums!
AIM: What other talks/sessions on the schedule interest you?
SB: I’m looking forward to hearing Karen Perkins from Luton Museums talking about Museum Makers which is a really interesting project. Ely Museum is starting to use Visitor Verdict, so I’m interested to hear Steve Mills discussing the experience of Didcot Railway Centre.
AIM: Thanks so much for your time Sara – anything else you would like to add?
SB: Museums are a very friendly sector filled with people keen to discuss and share their ideas and learn from one another. This conference is a great opportunity to meet people and join in these discussions.
AIM National Conference 2015 is now sold out. To be placed on our waiting list, please contact:
AIM would like to thank our conference sponsors Development Partners for their support.