Sally MacDonald

Profile photograph of Sally MacDonald

Director of UCL Museums and Public Engagement

Vice-Provost's Office,

UCL, Gower Street

London WC1E 6BT

+44 (0)20 7679


Sally MacDonald is currently Director of Museums and Public Engagement at UCL. She has worked at senior level in both the local authority and the university museum sectors. She has led award-winning museums of social and community history (Croydon Museum Service) and archaeology (Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology), though she started her career curating decorative arts collections (at Manchester City Art Galleries and then the Geffrye Museum). She has served on the DCMS Working Party for Human Remains and on the Wellcome Trust’s Medical History and Engagement Capital Awards Committee. She is currently a board member of the Museums Association and Culture Unltd, co-chair of the Women Leaders in Museums Network and a member of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Our Museum Steering Group.

She has recently set up Heritage without Borders, an organisation that undertakes international capacity building in heritage skills in situations of poverty and post conflict.

Current Positions:

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Heritage Without Borders (

Board member, Museums Association

Board member, UCL-Qatar

Board member, Jewish Museum

Board member, Culture Unlimited

Research interests

  • Touch, haptics and object handling in museum contexts
  • Museums and community engagement


  • ‘Exploring the role of touch in connoisseurship and the identification of objects’, in Pye, E., (ed) The Power of Touch: handling objects in museum and heritage contexts Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. 107–120
  • ‘Stolen or Shared: Ancient Egypt at the Petrie Museum’ in Hackforth–Jones, J and Roberts, M (eds) 2005 Edges of Empire: Orientalism and Visual Culture London: Blackwell 162–180
  • (with Catherine Shaw) ‘Uncovering Ancient Egypt: the Petrie Museum and its Audiences’ in Merriman, N (ed) 2004 Public Archaeology London: Routledge 109–131
  • (with Michael Rice eds) 2003 Consuming Ancient Egypt London: UCL Press
  • ‘Lost in Time and Space: Ancient Egypt in Museums’, in MacDonald, S and Rice, M (eds) 2003 Consuming Ancient Egypt London: UCL Press 87–99
  • 'Dead or Alive – Some Questions about Objects and People', Nordisk Museolgi 2, 1998 17–28.
  • 'Croydon – What History?', in Kavanagh, G and Frostick, E (eds) 1998 Making City Histories in Museums, Leicester University Press: 58–79
  • 'Lifetimes: A Multimedia History', Library Association Information Technology Group Journal, 1994 20–26
  • 'Changing our Minds: Planning a Responsive Museum Service' in Hooper–Greenhill, E (ed) 1993, Museum, Media, Message, Routledge: 165–174
  • 'Your Place or Mine? Market Research for Croydon Museum Service', Social History Curators Group Journal 1992 76–85
  • (with Julia Porter and Joanna Banham) 1991 Nineteenth Century Interior Design, London: Cassells
  • (with Julia Porter) Putting on the Style: Setting up Home in the 1950s, 1990 exhibition catalogue. London: Geffrye Museum
  • (with Julia Porter) 'Fabricating Interiors: Room Settings in Museums', Design History Society Journal 1990
  • 'Telling White Lies: the Geffrye Museum's Black History Project' Museums Journal 1990
  • 'Gothic Forms applied to Furniture: the early work of Bruce James Talbert', Furniture History Society Journal, XXIII 1987 39–66
  • Porcelain from Europe, 1985 exhibition catalogue, Manchester: Manchester City Art Galleries
  • 'For Swine of Discretion: William Morris in Manchester', Museums Journal 1986 123–9
  • 'Furniture' 1983 in Alfred Waterhouse 1830–1905, exhibition catalogue, London: RIBA 53–61


  • Fellow of Museums Association
  • Fellow of Royal Society of Arts