UCL News


UCL Museums & Collections leader appointed

24 March 2006

Sally MacDonald has been appointed Director of UCL Museums & Collections.

Sally Macdonald3

The director is responsible for developing UCL's internationally important museums and specialist collections, for making sure they are actively used in teaching and research within the university, and promoting them as a source of inspiration for the broader community.

Professor Michael Worton, UCL Vice-Provost (Academic & International), said: "This is an exciting time for UCL's four registered museums and 12 departmental collections, as we aim to make UCL Museums & Collections a beacon of innovation and best practice. Sally MacDonald has vision, as well as the energy and skills to implement her vision. We could not have found a better leader for our curators and conservators."

Sally said: "UCL is exemplary among universities in recognising that its world-class collections are among its greatest assets, alongside its outstanding museum studies and conservation courses, an extremely talented group of curators and exceptionally high-quality object-based teaching and learning. Most importantly for me, UCL is really prepared to take risks and to debate subjects such as disposal, repatriation and the politics of curation. University museums have both the freedom and the responsibility to be constructively provocative."

"I have chosen to work in museums because I believe in their potential to inspire, enrich and empower people. I am aware of the enormous opportunity offered by UCL's extraordinary collections, the interdisciplinary academic environment and a committed senior management. I want to see the university museum reinvented as a forum for academic-public engagement.

"Over the next four years we will be constructing the new UCL Institute for Cultural Heritage, which - as well as housing some of UCL's most significant collections - will act as a public laboratory for some of these ideas. It's a tremendously exciting time."

Sally has 25 years' experience in museums, the last seven as Manager of UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, where she was responsible for reassessing, developing and promoting this designated university museum to support and contribute to teaching and research and to provide an internationally respected public interface for the UCL. She also teaches on the UCL MA in Museum Studies.

Under Sally's leadership, the Petrie Museum trebled its visitor figures, put its entire collection online - creating one of the largest illustrated online museum catalogues in the world - introduced a range of educational services, including a schools service, handling collections and outreach services, and extended cultural diversity initiatives.

The Petrie Museum also increased the percentage of earned income five-fold, to more than 50 per cent, while more than doubling the Arts & Humanities Research Council core funding.

It won the 2002 Museum & Heritage Touring Exhibition Award for the exhibition 'Ancient Egypt: Digging for Dreams' and won the 2005 Museum & Heritage 'Classic Award', on the grounds of "its consistent determination to keep moving forward, whilst taking up new agendas, for example in learning and the ethics of dealing with human remains. The judges felt that the Petrie demonstrated an excellent model for other university museums as well as demonstrating good practice to all."

Sally has served on many national professional committees, including the Heritage Lottery Fund's Expert Panel on Museums, Archives & Libraries. She is a board member of the Campaign for Learning in Museums and a committee member of the University Museums Group.

UCL's four registered museums are the UCL Art Collections, the Geological Sciences Collection, the Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy and the Petrie Museum. Its departmental collections comprise Anatomy, the Institute of Archaeology Collections, Biological Anthropology, the Ethnographic Collections, the Galton Collection, Histopathology, Medical Physics & Bioengineering and the UCL Science Collections (Chemistry, Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Geomatic Engineering, Physics and Physiology).

To find out more about UCL Museums & Collections, use the link at the bottom of this article.