In her 14 years at the helm of the Kids in Museums, which she established in 2003, Dea has been the founder, first Director and latterly Creative Director of the charity.
Initially a campaign run by The Guardian newspaper for museums and galleries to be more family-friendly, Kids in Museums became a charity with a trustee board and Dea as the first Director in 2006. The charity has grown to have a significant impact on the sector through providing advice, best practice and resources to museums and galleries, running Takeover Day, the Family Friendly Museum Award, and encouraging the adoption of the Kids in Museums Manifesto.
Dea leaves the organisation with funding secure for the next three years as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations.
Dea Birkett said: “It’s with some sadness but more joy that I am stepping down after a decade of extraordinary achievement by Kids in Museums. It’s been a privilege to work with such a passionate and expert team of staff and volunteers. I’ve learnt a great deal from the museums we have worked with, and from the families and young people whose voices I hope we’ve included in everything we do. I will always believe that museums can bring people together and help us share our stories so we may better understand each other. I have every confidence that the fabulous Kids in Museums team will continue to empower this – and much more – to happen. I’ve been called many things during my career at Kids in Museums. I began as an agitator, became Director of a kitchen-table charity, and leave as Creative Director. The Arts Council once dubbed me a ‘guerrilla in the museum world’. But the best title I received was from our Chair Sandie, when she recently called me ‘our own Exocet missile’. I’m blasting off to another exciting role – Ringmaster – running Circus250, the organisation co-ordinating the celebrations of 250 years of circus in 2018.”
Sandie Dawe CBE, Chair of the Kids in Museums Board of Trustees, said: “Without Dea there would be no Kids in Museums. It was her inspired idea, and she has been the driving force in ensuring that the UK’s museums, galleries and attractions are more open and welcoming to children and their families. It is always a big moment when the founder of a charity moves on but the legacy that Dea leaves behind is enormous. All of us in the charity, as well as thousands of families, volunteers and people working in the sector are grateful for all that Dea has achieved and the extraordinary organisation she founded.”
Philip Mould OBE, President of Kids in Museums said: “Dea has had a revolutionary impact on the quality of the UK’s museums and their capacity to engage families. The Kids in Museums Manifesto to which over 860 museums have signed is a Magna Carta for the exposition of our historical heritage. Her achievements have been phenomenal.”