Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Janet Dugdale

Oration

Presented by Angela Samata

Janet DugdalePro-Chancellor, it gives me great personal pleasure to present Janet Dugdale for the award of Honorary Fellow.

Janet is the Director of Museums at National Museums Liverpool and has been a lightning rod for innovation in the programmes she has curated since arriving on Merseyside in 1997. 

In her role, Janet is responsible for the collections and curatorial teams within the museum venues - World Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Museum of Liverpool.

She joined National Museums Liverpool as curator of social and community history and, from 2000, headed the successful Museum of Liverpool Life. She led the content and interpretation teams for the new Museum of Liverpool which opened in 2011.

When the Museum of Liverpool opened, Janet commented: “I always wanted to work in Liverpool because I realised there was so much potential here with a huge appetite for social history”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, and I’m not sure how this ranks in terms of credentials, that despite being born in Lancaster, she has given so much to the city that the Lord Mayor made her an ‘Honorary Scouser’ 2008.

Janet has worked in history museums since 1988. Her career started with the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, followed by the Lake District Art Gallery and Museum Trust where she ran the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry and was a founding member of Kendal Oral History Society.

After spending a year travelling internationally, she moved to Stoke-on-Trent to be senior assistant keeper of community history.

Janet holds a history degree from the University of Manchester and a post-graduate diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. She took the UEA Museum Leadership Programme and was in the first cohort of the Museums Association’s ‘Transformers’ programme. She is a Fellow of Museums Association, the Institute of Leadership and Management and the Royal Society of Arts.

Janet is an inspirational, forward-thinking individual who puts the people of Liverpool at the centre of her programming. She is a tireless cheerleader for marginalised voices.

Her unwavering support of LJMU staff and students has resulted in collaborations that have broken new ground in the museum sector. Tales from the City, the Museum of Liverpool’s recent exhibition on Liverpool LGBTQ lives, and Dry Your Eyes Princess, the temporary photography exhibition on transgender veterans, are but two examples of this work with our staff. Janet’s courage, vision and willingness to take risks on projects that she believes in means that she is a leading light in the drive to make museum spaces more inclusive and genuinely collaborative.

With Janet at the helm, the Museum of Liverpool has led the way in producing ground-breaking exhibitions which do not shy away from challenging issues. For example working in partnership with Homotopia, Portrait of a Lady, which documented life of the transgender pioneer April Ashley, broke new ground and remains the largest exhibition of transgender history in the UK.

A strong advocate for, and practitioner of, participative and partnership working, Janet believes that museums should be approachable and relevant to modern audiences. The people-based, storytelling approach to presenting collections certainly pays off with audience figures at an all-time high for National Museums Liverpool.

And so, Pro-Chancellor, it is a privilege to present our Honorary Scouser, Janet Dugdale for the award of a Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University in recognition of her outstanding contribution to curating and celebrating Liverpool culture.