25-26 April 2024


Hosts: Sainsbury Centre – Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas – University of East Anglia (UEA)


Museums have never been just reflections of the people and societies materialised within them but also institutional drivers of cultural action, political perspective and social change. In 2023 the Sainsbury Centre relaunched with a new concept, Living Art Sharing Stories, which rethinks what the museum can be today. The Centre understands its collections as living entities that can help us address fundamental societal challenges. The exhibition programme therefore explores Big Questions related to climate change, truth, war and other global issues.

The 2024 meeting of MEG in the Sainsbury Centre at UEA (Thurs-Fri, 25-26 April) marks 50 years of MEG meetings, and aims to highlight the important role museums can play in addressing challenges in collegial and collaborative ways. Museums holding ‘ethnographic’ or ‘World Cultures’ collections find themselves at the forefront of new debates and controversies, but also new opportunities.

Conference registration is now open! Register here

Call for papers

We welcome speakers to bring their own experiences, reflections and actions in response to the following questions:

  1. How can museums revitalise their role in society, in the UK and overseas?
  2. How can museums address climate change and other global challenges, especially in those parts of the world from where their collections originate?
  3. How can museums address issues of repatriation, circulation, knowledge exchange, and collaboration? By what means can the lasting problems of the past be confronted and new relationships developed?

Papers will be 20 minutes followed by questions. In addition there will be an opportunity to present 10-minute reports on ongoing research and/or projects.

Please send abstracts of 150-200 words for papers or reports to MEG.conference@uea.ac.uk, stating your full name in the body of the email by 23.59 (UK time) on Wednesday 24 January. Acceptance will be confirmed by Monday 12 February 2024, 17.00 (UK time), allowing time for presenters to make their travel arrangements.


Fees – includes registration, lunch, coffee/tea and drinks reception on Thursday evening (25 April):

MEG Member concessionary ticket £40

MEG Member standard ticket £60

MEG Institutional Member Standard ticket £60

Non-MEG Member Concessionary ticket £70

Non-MEG Member Standard ticket £80

Conference Dinner £35 on Thursday evening 25 April


Conference bursaries

Two UK bursaries are aimed at people working (paid or voluntary) or wanting to work in UK museums, without institutional support to attend the Conference, with up to £300 each for Conference fee, membership, travel, accommodation, and food. Applications are especially welcome from those underrepresented in the cultural sector and those on a low income. We ask that individuals in receipt of the MEG bursary write up their recollections of the conference in a blog for the MEG website (by the end of June).

If you are interested in applying for a bursary, please send a statement of up to 500 words to chair@museumethnographersgroup.org.uk by Wednesday 24 January 2024. Please state why you want to attend the MEG Conference, the title of your paper (if applicable), how attendance will benefit your study/work, and how you will share your learning. Applications will be assessed on the perceived benefits of attending and the fit with MEG’s aspirations.


Image: Detail of a free-standing figure; Māori, Aotearoa New Zealand; 18th-early 19th century; wood, Haliotis iris shell; Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, UEA 178.