Michelle McGrath is the founder of Museum as Muck, a network for working-class museum people.
She founded Museum as Much in June 2018, after being frustrated at the lack of working-class people in museums, galleries and heritage organisations. This started life as an informal community, with the aim of providing support and solidarity for working-class museum professionals. It has since grown into a formal network with more than 800 members around the country.
The Museum as Muck network works to improve the socio-economic diversity of staff within the sector, as well as to encourage new approaches to interpretation, programming and collecting.
McGrath is currently head of learning at Bow Arts Trust and has had a long career in museum learning. This includes work with the British Museum, the Museum of the Home, Royal Museums Greenwich, Imperial War Museums and more. She initially qualified as a primary school teacher and later studied a foundation to History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London.
An audience advocate, she has expertise in working with schools, families, young people and SEND groups. She is a changemaker in the sector and a passionate spokesperson for working-class people in museums. She is also a Trustee of the Museums Association.
One nomination said that McGrath’s work has helped to make social-economic class part of the diversity and inclusion conversation in UK museums:
“The network provides a supportive community for people from working-class backgrounds in all sorts of museum roles and works with museums to make their recruitment and retention practice more inclusive. Michelle’s experience working in senior learning and engagement roles mean she is a gifted facilitator and an inspiring leader for the network. She is dedicated to creating real change’ making the museum workforce more reflective of society and ensuring everyone truly feels welcome in our museums.”