Symposium: Museums, Cities, Cultural Power
24th and 25th of June 2021 online

Museums, Cities, Cultural Power is a free two-day online symposium bringing together cultural and museum practitioners, academics, urbanists, architects and activists for a series of urgent discussions on the evolving power relationships between urban museums, their neighbourhoods and the people who inhabit them.

The Museums, Cities, Cultural Power symposium asks critical questions about the civic, cultural and economic agency of contemporary museums in cities, addressed in our panels on place – people – power, including:

  • What impact do large-scale cultural developments have on neighbourhoods?
  • How can museums enter into dialogue with their surroundings culturally and socially?
  • How do localities shape museums?
  • What can a civic museum be in the light of the BLM movement, and who for?
  • How can museums reflect, represent and be of value to a wide cross section of society within their cities and beyond?
  • How can cultural institutions become part of the everyday fabric of urban life and its paradoxes?
  • What is the role of museums in a post-Covid-19 world?

These are vital questions in the context of the Museum of London’s move to the historic site of West Smithfield, the Black Lives Matter movement and the Covid-19 pandemic reinvigorating debates about the civic roles of cultural institutions in cities. The Museums, Cities, Cultural Power symposium will pay attention to the civic, cultural and economic agency of contemporary museums and their relationship to cities across the globe.


Museums, Cities, Cultural Power is a free online event, open to everyone. It will consist of a series of live panel sessions, presentations and informal activities alongside a short film and podcast series which support the programme and can be accessed at any time.


The symposium is organised and funded in partnership with Brunel University London, the Museum of London, and UCL Urban Laboratory. Supported with public funding by Arts Council England. Part of London Festival of Architecture 2021.