Mark Taylor is to step down as director of the Museums Association after 23 highly successful years in the post. We asked him how the sector has changed during his career, and what it needs to do next.
What, in your opinion, have been the most positive developments in the museums sector during your time at the MA?
I think it is instructive to look at the way the museum world has dealt with the cuts this time as opposed to 20 years ago. I would maintain that they have, in general, coped much better. Museums are better led and managed than they were 20 years ago, they are more popular than ever, they are more relevant to all sides of society, they are more entrepreneurial and museum people are more confident about the role they play in the world. Of course, those heavily dependent on public funding are having a difficult time and it isn’t going to get better any time soon, but the museums sector of 20 years ago would have buckled under the pressure it is under now.
And what are the major concerns that museums now need to address?
Museums need to diversify. They need to diversify the communities and audiences they work with and serve, and they need to diversify their income to ensure they are not over dependant on one singular source.
The Museums Association is a members organisation for people working in museums, galleries and heritage. Its annual conference will take place this year in Cardiff, 9–10 October.