Past event

'Modelling Decency, Sir' with Elaine Gurian MGCI Annual Lecture

Join the School of Art History and the MGCI in School 3 at 6pm on the 7th November for the MGCI Lecture for 2022.


Perhaps more so than ever, it is critical that museums systematically review and publicly demonstrate actions of empathy, respect, welcome, moral judgment, nuanced complexity, and civility to encourage citizens to practice public behaviors necessary for maintaining a working democracy. Museums have at their disposal overt tools of resistance to public positions they disagree with, including exhibition choice and public utterances. But in reinforcing the background role of intentional, mindful, and empathetic behavior, public institutions of trust (and museums are among the most trusted) can help collectively to rebuild our now-frayed foundation of shared values and practices, which is so needed for knitting together a generous and inclusive society.


Elaine Heumann Gurian has 50 years of museum experience as a senior executive and consultant. In 2021 Taylor and Frances published her seconded edited volume, Centering the Museum, Writings for the Post-Covid Age, which calls on the profession to help visitors experience their shared humanity, complexity in the presentation of ideas, and social uses for public buildings, to make museums more central and useful to everyone in difficult times. Gurian draws on her extensive experience as a deputy director, senior advisor to high-profile government museums, lecturer, and teacher around the world to think about recommendations for inclusive actions by intertwining sociological thinking with practical decision-making strategies. As an elder in the field, Elaine Gurian always speaks personally and emotionally, making no distinction between work and passion.