I have been involved in a lot of international activity recently, as the rest of the world seeks advice from National Museums Liverpool (NML) about how to run successful modern museums.
Last week I was in Tonsberg, Norway, speaking to museum professionals and elected politicians, including the Mayors of Tonsberg and of Vestfold County, where they run a joint museum service that is funded by a number of municipalities (Vestfold County Museum pictured above). A highlight was when I was hailed as a "great warrior from Liverpool" by a 'Viking' skald, who spoke of the fact that I am destined never to walk alone (this last, improvised reference received a huge cheer from 100 Norwegians).
This week I was in Kosovo, where the business of museums is very much tied up with identity, ethnicity and belief. I was asked to talk there about museums and human rights. It was very humbling to discuss such matters with Albanians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Montenegrans and Serbs, as well as Kosovans, about how cultural activity can contribute to the processes of peace and reconciliation, in a nation still recovering from the most violent of conflicts, where international sex trafficking is widespread, and where the backdrop is of KFOR (Kosovo Force) soldiers driving past at night in armoured vehicles
Also this week we welcomed to Liverpool delegations from Lithuania and Finland. The Lithuanians were from the President of Lithuania's office in Vilnius, and the Finns (museum staff and politicians) were from Helsinki, where they are developing a new city museum. Both groups were especially interested in how the Museum of Liverpool works.
These international dialogues show that NML exerts huge influence throughout the museum world, but also help ensure that we stay at the top of our game, notwithstanding the budget reductions that we are experiencing.