Graham  Black Author of Evaluating Organization Development
FEATURED AUTHOR

Graham Black

Professor of Museum DEvelopment
Nottingham Trent University

I have spent 45 years working in and with museums, since 1989 as a consultant in interpretation, and academic since 1994. Combining both roles made me better at each. Two museums in which I acted as consultant have won the prestigious UK Art Fund prize. Publications include three books: The Engaging Museum (2005); Transforming Museums in the 21st Century (2012); and Museums and the Challenge of Change (2021). My great ambition is for more people to enjoy museums as much as I do.

Biography

Graham Black began his career as a field archaeologist, then retrained as a curator eventually becoming Senior Curator of Nottingham Castle Museum. In 1989 he launched himself as a consultant in interpretation, and has been lucky to work on a fascinating range of projects since. In 1994 he combined that role with a fractional post at Nottingham Trent. He believes strongly that this improved his work in both roles. The draft of his first book, The Engaging Museum, was written in 4 months when a major interpretation project was delayed. It took another year to get it into a fit state to publish. It has since sold over 8000 copies and been citied almost 900 times. His second book followed in 2012 and has sold approaching 4000 copies. The third in this unexpected trilogy was published in December 2020. He sees the books as merging practice and academic study in an analysis of how museums have responded, or failed to respond to rapid societal change.
In 2013 he gave up working on major display projects, believing that cheap, agile displays were key to the future, rather than the very expensive schemes he had been involved in. He feels too many museums are stuck with out-of-date content because of the cost of replacing these.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Museum Interpretation
    Heritage Interpretatiom
    Audiences and potential audiences for museums
    I am moost interested now in the holistic nature of the museum experience

Personal Interests

    Travel
    Anything to do with Northern Ireland
    Archaeology
    Historic architecture and towns
    Walking
    His family and friends

Books

Featured Title
 Featured Title - THE ENGAGING MUSEUM - 1st Edition book cover

Articles

Curator 63 (1) p21-38

Engaging Audiences with Difficult Pasts: the Voices of ’68 Project at the Ulster Museum, Belfast


Published: Dec 01, 2020 by Curator 63 (1) p21-38
Authors: Graham Black and Chris Reynolds

Can history museums influence the relationship between divided communities? This paper explores why an initially modest collaboration between the authors and the Ulster Museum on the non‐violent Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement of 1968/69, eventually had substantial impact beyond the museum’s walls.

Museum Management and Curatorship 33 (4) p302-319

Meeting the audience challenge in the 'Age of Participation'


Published: Jan 09, 2018 by Museum Management and Curatorship 33 (4) p302-319
Authors: Graham Black

This paper explores what is meant by a ‘participative museum experience’ for the informal visitor. This focuses on engaging people with museum collections and the stories they tell in a framework of social interaction that gives priority to the process of learning, not the outcomes. It includes an interim typology of participative exhibits.

Museum management and Curatorship 31 (4) p386-401

Remember the 70%: sustaining core museum audiences


Published: Jan 10, 2016 by Museum management and Curatorship 31 (4) p386-401
Authors: Graham Black

This paper explores the urgent need for museums to develop strategies for the retention of ‘core’ museum audiences – the well-educated professionals and their families and friends who represent around 70% of museum attendance. It is a ‘provocation’ in four parts: the failure to attract enough of this audience; an out-of-date display model; the need to rebrand as social and leisure destinations; and a call to acknowledge that their relationship with audiences has changed.

ed. Hooper, G. Heritage and Tourism in Britain and Ireland, p263 - 278

Museums and Tourism: time to make friends


Published: Jan 09, 2016 by ed. Hooper, G. Heritage and Tourism in Britain and Ireland, p263 - 278
Authors: Graham Black

This chapter discusses the partnership between museums and heritage tourism, to be more than a marriage of convenience. There is a long-standing, symbiotic relationship between the two fields but it has been an uneasy and fragmented one. Many museum staff view tourist bodies as seeking to commodify the past and interested purely in profit, while many tourism personnel see museums (and other heritage destinations) as amateurs in their operation and, particularly, in the management of visitors.

ed. McCarthy, C. Museum Practice: the contemporary museum at work, Volume 4, p123-151

Developing audiences for the 21st century


Published: Jan 04, 2014 by ed. McCarthy, C. Museum Practice: the contemporary museum at work, Volume 4, p123-151
Authors: Graham Black

.The underlying theme of this chapter - the challenge museums face in remaining relevant to 21st century audiences - sets the future of museums in the context of the rapid societal developments that we are all part of. It argues that, as a result, museums should prioritise equally rapid changes in their public practice.

Cultural and Social History 8(3) p415-427

Museums, Memory and History


Published: Jan 09, 2011 by Cultural and Social History 8(3) p415-427
Authors: Graham Black

Thi article explores thecomplex relationship between history museums, memory, history and audiences. In selecting what to collect, museums define what is or is not history. In preserving their collections they act as a permanent memory store. In the way they display and interpret that material evidence, they construct and transmit meanings. In the process of being experienced by visitors, history is then transformed into their own understanding of the past.

Museum Management and Curatorship 25(2) p129-146

Embedding Civil Engagement in Museums


Published: Jan 06, 2010 by Museum Management and Curatorship 25(2) p129-146
Authors: Graham Black

Initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond have sought to re-position museums in their communities as agents for civil engagement. This paper explores the principles involved in making the role possible. It argues that this will take time, commitment and careful planning, and will impact on every aspect of the museum’s activities. It is an essential task however, reflecting the direction museums should be taking in society in the 21st century.

ed. Kraeutler, H. Heritage Learning Matters: museums & universal heritage, Vienna,  p63-76

Creating a Museum Learning Environment


Published: Jan 03, 2008 by ed. Kraeutler, H. Heritage Learning Matters: museums & universal heritage, Vienna, p63-76
Authors: Graham Black

Graham Black argues that the concept of the ‘museum learning environment’ is a central support to learning in museums and must be extended beyond the physical to encompass every aspect of the user experience, from initial contact with the museum to the resources that can be drawn on after the visit. He defines a series of practical principles that can be adapted by all museums.

ed. Drummond, S. & Yeoman, I. “Quality Issues in Heritage Visitor Attractions”, Dec 2000, p97-135

Quality and Concept Development


Published: Jan 12, 2000 by ed. Drummond, S. & Yeoman, I. “Quality Issues in Heritage Visitor Attractions”, Dec 2000, p97-135
Authors: Graham Black

A detailed exploration of the development of an outline Interpretive Plan. This seeks to define:- WHAT you wish to present - specific site/resource issues. themes etc. to be presented. WHY you wish to develop/change the attraction - specific objectives. WHO you are targeting the presentation at - nature of target audience. needs of audience. expectations of audience. HOW you intend to present the attraction - the Concept.