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Risk-Taking in Museums

A Museum-Leadership Symposium

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
2 pm – 6:30 pm

In today's increasingly polarized political and social context, risk seems to be everywhere. What is the role of the museum in moderating risk?

Join leading experts and international museum colleagues as we explore risk from a variety of perspectives.

Presentations and discussions will be followed by networking reception.

Presentations will be in English. Simultaneous translation will be provided during the presentations; you must bring your mobile phone and headphones to use the service.

Upon check-in at the museum, participants will also be given free general admission to visit the permanent galleries and a free ticket to visit the special exhibition Survival of the Slowest. The tickets will be valid for the afternoon of the symposium, April 24.

Presented by the Nature Inspiration Centre, Canadian Museum of Nature.


  • Admission is free
  • Tickets are required
  • Registration for the symposium is required by Monday, April 15.

Programme Schedule

1 pm – 2 pm: Check-in, free-ticket pick-up for optional museum visit
2 pm – 2:15 pm: Doors open, coffee/tea
2:15 pm – 5 pm: Presentations and discussion
5 pm: Galleries and exhibitions close with the rest of the museum
5 pm – 6:30 pm: Networking reception (cash bar)


Marisa Beck.

Marisa Beck.

Marisa Beck

Presentation: Risk Perceptions Vary—Why That Is, Why It Matters, and What It Means for Museums as Knowledge Brokers
The University of Ottawa's @Risk project examines when and how broader public values can be incorporated into public risk management processes. How can societies make effective decisions about risk when experts and the public perceive hazards and risk issues differently? Drawing on @Risk research, this talk explores why risk perceptions differ, what this means for public involvement in risk governance, and how museums can play a role in facilitating the democratization of decision-making about risk.

About Marisa: Marisa Beck, Ph.D., directs the Institute for Science, Society's research activities and contributes to multiple on-going research and engagement projects. Her key interests include the politics and processes of evidence-based decision-making in climate and energy policy.

Concetta Bencivenga.

Concetta Bencivenga.

Concetta Bencivenga

Presentation: Understanding Risk From A Museum-Leadership Perspective
What kinds of risks do museums face, and how do they navigate them? Concetta will help us unpack the different types of business risk that apply to museums, using examples from her experience as CFO of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, U.S.A., at a time when the museum was undergoing an important expansion and relocation project.

About Concetta: Concetta Anne Bencivenga began her museum career in 2003 at Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. She is now Director of the New York Transit Museum, the largest museum dedicated to urban transportation in North America.

Brock Cahill.

Brock Cahill.

Brock Cahill

Presentation: Risking It All
Brock Cahill was friend, collaborator and dive partner to filmmaker Rob Stewart (1979 to 2017), creator of the award-winning films Sharkwater (2007), Revolution (2012) and Sharkwater Extinction (2018). Together, they travelled to remote diving areas worldwide to capture amazing stories and footage of elusive sharks. Brock will share stories of the personal risks encountered and overcome in the pursuit of their conservation mission. Surprisingly, swimming with sharks was the least risky part of their experience!

About Brock: Based in Los Angeles, U.S.A., Brock Cahill is a Cinematic Activist and Preservation Tactician at Team Sharkwater, and founder of The SeaChange Agency, a non-profit organization committed to improving Oceanic Ecosystems for sharks, sea turtles and all endangered marine species.

Dan Gardner.

Dan Gardner.

Dan Gardner

Presentation: Your Brain and Risk: Psychology, Science and Politics
Why do we hold irrational fears about some unlikely risk events, while downplaying other more serious risks, such as smoking and obesity? Dan Gardner will take us inside the brain's systems of understanding risk, and help us uncover how to deconstruct the information that we're bombarded with and respond more logically and adaptively to our world.

About Dan: Dan Gardner is the New York Times best-selling author of books about psychology and decision-making and a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

You Should Know

  • Symposium participants may be photographed for event albums and marketing; notify our staff when you arrive if you would like to opt out
  • Please refrain from wearing and using scented products during the symposium
  • 19+; photo I.D. required for alcoholic beverages
  • No smoking or vaping on the museum's property.

Time for Parking
Parking at the museum can fill up rapidly during busy times. Give yourself enough time to find alternative parking if necessary.