Seeing each other through the arts.






Museums | Development and Curatorship

Photo: Cesar Barreto

Transforming dialogues


Attending the Museum Academy has been a great opportunity to get in touch with British museum’s reflections and practices on audience development, as well as sharing experiences and questions with colleagues from different Brazilian museums. – Gabriela Aidar, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo


The British paleontologist and writer Richard Fortey wrote that museums have no political power, but they do have the possibility of influencing the political process. “This is a complete change from their role in the early days of collecting and hoarding the world to one of using the collections as an archive for a changing world. This role is not merely scientifically important, but it is also a cultural necessity”, he states. Going even further, he says: “I believe profoundly in the importance of museums; I would go as far as to say that you can judge a society by the quality of its museums”. In recognition of the fundamental role of museums in the process of social, urban and cultural transformation, the British Council, through the Transform Museums Programme created a solid platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practices between Brazilian and British institutions for the development of the sector in both countries.

Lucimara Letelier
Deputy Director of Arts and coordinator of Transform Museums Programme


people visited the exhibit "Lucian Freud: Faces and Bodies" at MASP in São Paulo in 2013


visited the exhibit "Antony Gormley: Still Being at CCBB" in São Paulo in 2012


people visited the exhibit "These Associations" by Tino Sehgal at CCBB in Rio and Pinacoteca in São Paulo in 2014

Effie Vourakis
Arts Manager for Museums, Architecture, Design and Fashion

Converging interests

The Transform Museums Programme works in four main areas: strengthening of public policies, exchanges between museums, deepening of university studies and capacity building. Since its inception in 2012, the programme has delivered seminars, courses, workshops, study tours and conferences with the participation of British speakers from the museum sector. One of the outcomes of this exchange has been the creation of the pilot project Museum Academy, a partnership with the São Paulo State Secretariat of Culture launched in 2015, now in its second edition. “Museum Academy has been a short-course for museums managers with over three years of experience and it involves the professional exchange of the Government at Municipal, State and Federal levels, besides integrating Brazilian and British museum professionals to collaborate on capacity building for their staff”, states Effie Vourakis, Arts Project Manager, British Council. “The course allowed 25 people from several museums in five Brazilian states, to work along with British professionals, and learn about how to create new audiences and how to better serve them”, explains British Council Deputy Director for the Arts Lucimara Letelier.

VIDEO: International Museum Academy

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From Brazil to the world

The 23th ICOM’s General Conference – International Council of Museums, the main global museums organisation, took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 with the theme "Museums (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change", with Transform supporting five international committees through lectures and workshops from British lecturers, in addition to awarding a scholarship to two young talents from British museums who attended the conference. "I met people from all over and made new contacts with all continents, which shows the ICOM global reach and confirms that the Conference is an incredible opportunity for networking”, said Dana Andrew, from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Another key event for the sector is the Encontro Paulista de Museus (São Paulo State Museums Meeting)  currently in its 8th edition. Six British speakers have participated as part of the partnership with the British Council since 2013, where they could exchange experiences with over 1,500 professionals from the SISEM (São Paulo State Museums System).

In 2015, the Seminar Museums and its audiences, held by the British Council at Museu de Arte do Rio - MAR  attracted more than 200 professionals and consolidated an important step to the Transform, celebrating very powerful partnerships, such as the one between the Science Museum (London) and Museu do Amanhã (Tomorrow Museum, Rio de Janeiro), with the signing of the memorandum of intention for cooperation between museums for educational programmes, exhibitions, exchange of knowledge, research and expertise.

In November 2016, the Transform International Museum Conference will address the museum's role in contemporary society, bringing the programme partners to discuss the panels in four areas chosen by them: museums social role, financial sustainability, public policy, audience engagement and connection, innovation, branding and new media.

O Transform The Transform has also developed partnerships with museums and cultural centers in holding exhibitions in visual arts, artistic residencies and workshops taught by British artists in Brazil. One of them is the award-winning artist Haroon Mirza, who brought the "ÃÃÃ" exhibit for the first in Latin America with an interdisciplinary work that combines sound, visual arts and site-specific interventions at Pivô Gallery in São Paulo.

I met people from all over and made new contacts with all continents, which shows the ICOM global reach and confirms that the Conference is an incredible opportunity for networking.”

Dana Andrew, Victoria & Albert Museum

The Bienal of São Paulo, one of the most important events in the Arts circuit, has had British presence since its first edition, and this history will be showed in a digital timeline from the first Bienal edition, in 1951 up to the 32nd edition, 2016, with all British artists and their work in a website hosted by the British Council. In addition, architects, designers and artists from the United Kingdom have had the opportunity to come to Brazil through the Lina Bo Bardi Fellowship to research the Italian architect’s legacy in the country.

"It’s great to see Transform Museums promoting an encounter between each country’s expertise. Brazil’s role in community engagement, intangible heritage, social inclusion, incentive laws and governance hybrid models, for example, gained new shaping in conjunction with British museums’ activism and their perennial mechanisms of public policies, innovative sources and structured and planned management", states Lucimara Letelier.

One of the greatest legacies of the programme is the recognition that both sides have a lot to learn and exchange between them and with the world. For Effie, much of it takes place within the Museum Academy, today International Museums Academy: "It is a global offer now that was first experienced here, in Brazil”, she says. It is worth reminding, as stated by Fortey that life accumulates a collection: of people, work and perplexity. And that most of it is very well kept at the museums.

Transforming Conversations

Marcelo Mattos, Secretary of Culture of São Paulo State and newly appointed president of Ibram – Brazilian Institute of Museums, talks about his work with the British Council in Museums, Music and Disability.


Discover all about the Transform Programme by category:

| Music | Museums | Drama and Dance | Film and Literature | Creative Economy & Cultural Skills | Accessibility and Human Rights |