AN INTERVIEW WITH MAX DUNBAR OUR NEW CEO
Our new CEO, Max Dunbar has been with us for a few weeks now. I let him settle in for a while, before interviewing him for the benefit of people reading this blog.
I was curious to know who or what had inspired him to follow a career in museums and archives. It turns out that he always had an interest in history and it was while studying for a history degree that he went on a trip to the British Museum. There he noticed one of the curators installing objects in display cases, and he thought “I could do that.” So, after completing his first degree, he embarked on a post graduate degree in Museum Studies at the University of East Anglia.
I then asked Max what had made the biggest impressions on him since taking up his position here. He said it was the commitment and dedication of the staff and volunteers, particularly after the difficulties the Museum had experienced over the last year. (I think we are going to like him!)
“What immediate improvements would you make to the Museum if you had a magic wand to wave?” I asked Max. His response was that he would straightaway refresh and modernize the permanent gallery. I think we would all agree with that.
Max told me that at the Liverpool Records Office where he used to work bringing audiences and collections together was logistically a different experience to the one we have here. Whereas, we have the Museum building itself and we have our display areas and we encourage people in to see our collections, at the Liverpool Records office there was no museum building and no display area and the collections were not housed where the offices were. So, it was the job of the staff to take out the collections and to find the audiences to show them to.
Max also explained that he is used to working with a small staff and large band of trusty volunteers. At the Liverpool Records Office he managed an archivist and an education officer and 30 volunteers, and at his job before that at the Twickenham Rugby Museum he managed a collections officer, learning officer, stadium tour manager and 30 volunteers.
Knowing that Max has a background in sports memorabilia, I asked him if he had ever come across a really exciting piece of memorabilia. He told me that at the Christies Auction house he came across an FA cup trophy which sold for half a million pounds. I don’t think we can compete with that.
Neither do I think the Museum will be sending Max on any business class flights to Rio, like he once went on to value Pele’s football shirt, which was eventually sold for £50,000. Can we offer such excitement? I know we once sent our Education Officer to Macclesfield………
To round off our interview, I had put together a short test to find out what Max had learned about the Museum so far. I am pleased and impressed to report that he could name two volunteers without hesitation, he had no trouble remembering that we had just celebrated Shavuot, he knew who drank the most tea in the office, had already worked out the fastest selling book in the shop, and after a brief pause was able to tell me the exact location of the Altaras window. So one hundred per cent accuracy!
So we are pleased to welcome Max to the Museum and look forward to him taking it from strength to strength.