History Matters 2021

The History Matters Conference

Tuesday 2nd March, 12:45 – 16:30


12.45 – 13.00

Why History Matters

Opening Remarks:

Dean Godson  Director, Policy Exchange 


Trevor Phillips OBE  Chair, Policy Exchange’s History Matters Project 

13.00 – 14.00

Statues and the Public Space

Across the country, swift action is being taken to ‘decolonise’ public spaces. Institutions such as councils, museums, universities, charities or historic houses face increasing pressure to remove statues or rename streets and buildings. How should calls for the ‘decolonisation’ of public spaces be answered? The Government has just announced new measures which include giving the Secretary of State the power to veto the removal of statues, plaques and memorials across the country. What will the effect of these measures be?   

Three case studies will be presented: first, the renaming of Havelock Road, Ealing; secondly, the proposed removal of the Thomas Guy Statue, King’s College London; and thirdly, the rewording of the Melville Monument plaque, Edinburgh. 


Peter Ainsworth – Chair, The Heritage Alliance  

Panel member: 

Sir Laurie Magnus –  Chairman, Historic England
Dr Zareer Masani – Historian and Author
Prof Evelyn Welch – King’s College London, Interim President & Principal from January to June 2021

14.15 – 15.15

Museums and Galleries

Museums and galleries throughout the UK are being challenged as never before from movements advocating ‘decolonisation’ – or at the very least a revision of their approach to the presentation of historical objectsAlthough this debate has gone on for some time, it has dramatically intensified in 2020. 

How should museums and galleries respond to and remain representative of the public they serve? What is actually happening on the ground? Is Government guidance fit for purpose from the point of view of museum boards and of professional staff? How should central Government respond? Are consultations on what actions to take truly representative of all communities? How, if at all, should directors of museums and galleries choose advisors to reinterpret their collections? Who has oversight? Who decides what course of action should be taken and what key principles should govern this process? 


Nicholas Coleridge CBE – Chair, Victoria and Albert Museum 

Panel member: 

Sir Ian Blatchford – Director, Science Museum Group
Dr Laura van Broekhoven – Director, Pitt Rivers Museum
Sharon Heal – Director, Museums Association
Dr Samir Shah CBE – Chair, Museum of the Home

15:30 – 16.30

In conversation


Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP – Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Trevor Phillips OBE – Chair, Policy Exchange’s History Matters Project

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