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We are delighted to announce that the MEG conference 2019 will be taking place at the Horniman Museum on the 25th and 26th of April on the theme of  'Trust, harm and ethnographic displays.' 

Horniman Museum World Cultures Gallery, 2018

Tickets now available via EventBrite.

Everything we hope to do rests upon trust.  Ethnography displays rely upon mutual trust - between and among museum professionals, external partners, and diverse audiences.

How do we develop an environment of trust that enables, accepts and forgives the contradictions inherent in our displays? We display difference as a means of searching for commonalities; our displays seek to 'give voice' and yet often we 'speak for'.  Trust enables forgiving spaces and critical conversations around displays that aspire to present, represent, advocate, interpret and empower other ways of being.  An absence of trust risks displays that seem to misrepresent, (mis)appropriate, consume and disempower.

How do we encourage institutional trust in a time of post-truth politics?

How can museums deal with ‘toxic’ or contested objects in our collections that potentially undermine the institution's message? 

Recognising that a failure of trust causes actual harm, how can we nurture and maintain trust?

Can collaborative curation and conversation really effect change in the broader landscape of museum practice? Do we need to re-think the museum’s relationships with the state and funders? And with originating communities?

 Full Programme

Day 1


9.00 - 9.45 Registration coffee
9.45 - 10.00 Welcome: Robert Storrie, Keeper of Anthropology, Horniman Museum and Gardens
10.00-10.30 Keynote: Winani Thebele, Chief Curator and Head of the Ethnology Division, Botswana National Museum

Provocations: 3 x short papers: exploring power disparity, (in)visibility and misinformation

Rachael Minott, Do we deserve the trust, attention (and funding) from audiences we have excluded?​

Nicola Stylianou, Making and Sustaining African connections

11.30-12.00 Break

Source communities in the ‘metropole’

Dagmar Dyck, Tending to the ​Talanoa

Rachel Smith, Objects, relationships and the future: Papua New Guinea collections in UK museums

13.00-14.00 Lunch

Representation In face of mistrust

Stuart Frost, “… everything in this Museum is stolen.” Visitors’ perceptions of the British Museum.

Chris Green, Trusting Temporalizations: The Temporal Limitations of the Ethnographic Museum

Ben Burt, Exhibiting colonial collecting at the British Museum

15.00-15.30 Break
15.30- 17.00 

Working against yourself: Redevelopment and redisplay

Henrietta Lidchi and Nicole Hartwell, Can we trust ourselves? Ethnographic objects in military museums

Inbal Livne, Uncomfortable truths: rethinking the Powell-Cotton story


Laura Phillips, Objects of Love, Hope and Fear: a World Collection at Derby Museums
17.00- 17.30 Summery and next day
18.00- 19.30 Reception in Horniman Museum Gallery Square and tours of World Gallery.  Dinner from 20.00 (venue tbc)

Day 2


9.00 - 9.45 Registration coffee
9.45- 10.45

To display or not to display

Esther Chipashu, Some reflections on the case of  ngoma lungundu( drum) , a contested ethnographic object at the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences

Nicole Anderson, Contested Objects: Uncovering Edinburgh University’s Anatomical Museum’s Colonial Past

10.45- 11.00 Break

Visible outcomes: trust in collaboration

Malika Kraamer, Leicester’s co-curated exhibitions: a reflection. 

Navjot Mangat, This paper shares the learnings and questions that have arisen from the National Maritime Museum’s community-led research initiative

12.00-13.00 AGM
13.00-1400 Lunch

Restitution (humiliation, white innocence, local benefit)

Chris Wingfield, Beyond Humiliation: Museum Ethics for an Agonistic Age

Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, Museums and white innocence: assuming trust without earning it?

Charlotte Joy, Museums as Courtrooms of Colonialism

15.30-16.00 Break

Speaking different Languages

Workshop/roundtable: Ludovic Coupaye

17.00- 17.30 Summing up
18.30 Close


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