South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

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Confront challenges

All of us working in the Museums and Heritage Sector face daily challenges in appealing to a wide range of people:

"How do we reach that elusive audience? What do we choose to let go from our amazing but overflowing collections? How can we be more creative in engaging existing visitors?"

This conference will confront these daily challenges in tough financial times.

Focus your learning

We recognise that many organisations have limited resources for staff development. To accommodate this, our new split-topic format will allow staff and volunteers who can only attend one day to focus on either visits (4 July) or collections (5 July) with a specific keynote for each. If you are able to attend both days, you will enjoy a varied programme that will enable you to think about how the two areas can support each other.

Like many of us, attendance at the SWFed conference may be the only conference you attend in a year. Our split-topic format ensures there will be something across the board that appeals to everyone.

Hear from the experts

We have an exciting line-up of specialists and heritage professionals from across two of the key fields in which we work, visits and collections (both of which go hand in hand). Our speakers will share expertise, showcase findings from live projects and partnerships, and provide hands-on workshops - helping you to 'confront the challenges'.

We are pleased to be introducing Helen Bonser-Wilton (CEO of the Mary Rose Trust), and Kevin Gosling (CEO of the Collections Trust) as our keynote speakers - each setting the tone for a great day of learning, sharing and challenge-busting.

Network with others

We understand that the best conferences allow space for people to share thoughts and connect with others. That is why we are including more time in the programme for networking and good old conversation than before.

As with last year, there will be a fun social evening for those staying for the two days (those attending only one day, can also book to attend the evening event on Wednesday 4 July).

“This year’s conference provides us with a fantastic opportunity to share and understand the nature of the challenges we all meet as well as to become better equipped to meet them head-on.”

Gail Boyle - Bristol Culture

Event Information


The Conference is held on the Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter (X-Fi Building, Exeter, EX4), a map and other related information can be found here.

For transport details to get to the Campus please click here.


The Campus operates a pay and display system and charges apply between 08.00 and 18.00 hours. There are no reserved parking spaces. The University and SWFed encourage delegates to take alternative methods of transport to the Conference (see links under visiting).

Please note: for those booking overnight campus accommodation a residential parking permit is issued upon arrival which is valid until departure the next day.


Overnight B&B is available at the Campus, available on a first come, first served basis. Booking early is highly recommended. The SWFed is not able to reserve rooms on behalf of delegates. To book, please click here and for accommodation FAQs please click here.

Joining SWFed

SWFed members benefit from discounted conference tickets. If you are not a Member and would like to join the SWFed before booking your conference ticket, please visit our membership page here.

We'd like to thank our conference partners University of Exeter and Honest Studio, and our conference sponsors Volunteer Makers and Tea Social.