Museums as Agents of Change: Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion

Museum Conference 2017

Museums as Agents of Change: Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion
Athens, Benaki Museum– 138 Pireos Street
Thursday, November 30, 2017, 09:00 – 17:00

Thessaloniki, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
Friday, December 1, 2017, 09:00-17:00

On November 30, the Benaki Museum, the U.S. Embassy Athens, the British Council and the British Embassy Athens are organizing the conference “Museums as Agents of Change: Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion.”

At the seventh edition of the Museum Conference, we invite professionals from museums and the wider cultural sector, artists, and students to examine in which ways museums and cultural organizations can change the lives of people and constitute pillars of healthy communities. The conference will include keynote addresses and a series of workshops.

During the conference, the international speakers will examine the museum’s role in a rapidly changing landscape of social inclusion policies. Among the topics that will be discussed are:

  • How can museums give voice to underprivileged groups and be places of creative exchange and open dialogue?
  • How can cultural institutions ensure that all audiences can access their programs, collections and resources?  How do we make accessibility a lifelong process for museums and cultural organizations that goes beyond compliance with basic building standards?
  • How can museums empower communities through museum outreach programs (including in hospitals, elderly homes, prisons and other institutions)?

 The conference is under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens and supported by the Athens Culture Net.

There will be simultaneous interpretation into Greek and English. Entry is free. Pre-registration for the conference and workshops is required and is available on Eventbrite.

 The conference will be recorded by the Bodossakis Foundation Lectures on Demand ( and will be available online. The conference will also be live streamed through DIAVLOS.

 Conference Program


9:00                              Registration


9:30-10:00                    Welcome Remarks


10:00-10:30                  Sarah Plumb
Research Associate, Research Center for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester  (UK)

The Role of Museums in Nurturing More Equitable and Inclusive Societies


10:30-11:00                  Georgia Krantz
Independent Accessibility Trainer and Consultant (USA)

Small Steps: A Practical Guide to Accessibility in Museums


11:00-11:30                  Dr. Nicole Ivy
Director of Inclusion, American Alliance of Museums (USA)

The Futures We Create: Museums as Agents of Social Change


11:30-12:00                  Coffee Break


12:00-12:30                  Jess and Matt Turtle
Co-founders, Museum of Homelessness (UK)

Changing our Lives: What can Working with Socially Excluded People Offer your Museum? 


12:30-13:00                  Case Studies on Inclusion


Maria Papadimitriou, Artist, Professor of the University of Thessaly, Department of Architecture (Volos)

Victoria Square Project            


                                    Navine G. Khan-Dossos, Artist

I Can’t Make Love To You Unless I Imagine A Palm Tree


13:00-15:30                  Break


15:30-17:00                  Workshops

(Working language English – participation upon registration)


  1. Opening the Doors – Jess and Matt Turtle
  2. Creating a Space Where All Voices Can Be Heard- Sarah Plumb
  3. Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Accessibility in Museums – Georgia Krantz
  4. Forecasting Inclusive Museum Futures –Dr. Nicole Ivy

Conference Coordinator: Dr Sophia Handaka, Benaki Museum

On the 1st of December the conference will also be presented in Thessaloniki at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, from 09:00-17:00, in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate General, the British Council, the British Embassy in Greece, and the State Museum of Contemporary Art. The conference is under the auspices of the City of Thessaloniki.


 Nicole Ivy is the inaugural Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums. A professional futurist and a historical thinker, Nicole is passionate about the arts and social change, having begun her work in the museum field as an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Graduate Fellow at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. She recently completed her tenure as a Museum Futurist and Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow with the Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums (CFM).

In addition to her work in the museum field, Nicole has held numerous academic appointments. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the History Department at Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB), and an inaugural postdoctoral fellow of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) at IUB.

Her professional and scholarly interests include strategic foresight, public history, visual culture, and inclusive change management. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Florida and her joint Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University.

Navine G. Khan-Dossos (b. 1982, London) is a visual artist, based in Athens. Her interests include Orientalism in the digital realm, geometry as information and decoration, image calibration, and Aniconism in contemporary culture. Khan-Dossos studied History of Art at Cambridge University, Arabic at Kuwait University, Islamic Art at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art in London, and holds an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. In 2014/2015, she was a participant at the Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL).

She has exhibited and worked with various institutions, including The Museum of Islamic Art (Doha), Witte de With (Rotterdam), The Delfina Foundation (London), The Library of Amiens (Amiens), Leighton House Museum (London), The Benaki Museum (Athens) and the A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah). She has published work in The White Review and The Happy Hypocrite.

Georgia Krantz is an independent accessibility trainer and consultant.  The bulk of her professional career has been spent in New York City where she works with museums and other cultural institutions to develop accommodations for people with disabilities.  In education as well as all other departments, staff members learn how to re-evaluate their thinking and their practices with regards to creating greater inclusion. As a veteran educator, Georgia also specializes in teaching art to people who are blind or have low vision.  And as an art historian, she has developed courses that explore relationships between art, sight and blindness.

Georgia currently works in education and accessibility at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and New York University, all in New York City, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon.  She worked for many years in education and access at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  Other institutions where she has facilitated accessibility training and consulting include the Jewish Museum, Dia Art Foundation and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, all in New York City; and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece.  Georgia volunteered for 7 years as a Steering Committee Member of the Museum Access Consortium in New York City

Maria Papadimitriou is a Greek contemporary visual artist living and working between Athens and Volos, Greece.  After graduating with an honours degree in painting from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA), Paris, Papadimitriou began practicing as a visual artist in 1989. She uses the medium of sculpture, installation, public art, video and photography to realize her artworks.

In 2002 she represented Greece for the 25th edition of the São Paulo Biennial with the project T.A.M.A. (Temporary Autonomous Museum for All), an ongoing project still central to her artistic practice. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization T.A.M.A. and the Art Canteen Souzy Tros. Since November 2016 she has been collaborating with the artist Rick Lowe in the organization and development of Victoria Square Project. She is Professor of Visual Arts at the Department of Architecture of the University of Thessaly in Volos. Matters of identity, social integration and exclusion are the recurring issues in her work. Her work has been presented in numerous shows internationally. In 2003 she won the DESTE prize for contemporary Greek art and in 2016 she was awarded with the rank of “Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques” by the French government.

Sarah Plumb is a Research Associate at the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK. RCMG’s focus is to develop research that stimulates new thinking and creative practice that enables cultural organizations to become more ambitious and impactful in nurturing more equitable and inclusive societies. Before joining the University of Leicester, Sarah worked as a museum and gallery educator for over twelve years, specializing in working with marginalized groups and individuals.

 Matt Turtle and Jess Turtle are the co-founders of the UK’s first Museum of Homelessness, which is being developed by people from all walks of life, including – and in particular – those who have been homeless.As well as developing the Museum of Homelessness (MoH), Jess works on the Policy and Programmes team at the Museums Association, running their Transformers program for mid-career museum professionals who want to make radical change in their museum. Jess is also the Chair of Trustees for the Simon Community, a homelessness charity in London, and sits on Battersea Arts Centre’s heritage committee. Matt currently works full-time on the MoH but has previously worked in programming and education roles for the Design Museum, Open House London, Crafts Council and the Royal Academy of Arts. He has an MA in Curating Contemporary Design. They are visiting tutors at the University of Essex and Kings College, London.