Rural communities – and their museums – face particular social, environmental and economic challenges. These are often ‘lost’ in museum-sector discussion, which often speaks from an urban/city perspective, but does not reflect the realities of rural museums, people or communities.
In November 2022, as part of the autumn Rural Voices seminar series, we welcomed Henry McGhie, founder of the museum and heritage consultancy Curating Tomorrow to explore sustainable development ideas and how rural museums can contribute towards sustainable communities, drawing on the ecomuseum model of a museum as ‘a community-led heritage or museum project that supports sustainable development’.
At the heart of this discussion were the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are available to view on the United Nations website.
This seminar was hosted by Hannah Jackson, Treasurer of the Rural Museums Network.
Henry McGhie grew up in the north of Scotland. He has a background as an ecologist, museum curator and manager. He set up Curating Tomorrow in 2019 to support museums to contribute to sustainable development agendas, including the SDGs, climate action, human rights, biodiversity conservation and Disaster Risk Reduction. He is a member of the ICOM Sustainability Working Group, and works internationally to support museums to build futures where people and nature flourish together. He has written a book on the history of natural history, co-edited two books on climate change communication, and produces a series of freely available guides on museums and sustainable development topics.
Hannah Jackson is an experienced museum project manager, having originally joined Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) in 2006 to manage the redevelopment of Lynn Museum. She subsequently held a number of roles at NMS’s 50-acre rural site: Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. These included positions focused on environmental sustainability (working in partnership with other rural museums within the eastern region), business development, and events and visitor programming.
Hannah is currently on a secondment from her role as Operations Manager for NMS’s western area museums (Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Lynn Museum and Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life) to project manage the transformation of Norwich Castle as part of the Royal Palace Reborn project.