Within an increasingly diverse society how might UK museums grow attendance and engagement?
How do we move beyond talk to action in increasing diversity, inclusion and equity to start to make real and lasting change in the museums sector?
I’m delighted to be working with fellow consultants Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis on a ground breaking project designed to help museums increase the diversity of their visitors.
The key focus of the project is on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change. The sector has been talking about diversity for so long. Open up provides a great opportunity to address and breakdown barriers. To help people take a first step and then the next, to make a meaningful, lasting, real change.
- What are the factors for success?
- What practical steps can museums take to improve visitor diversity?
- What do we need to change and influence both internally and externally?
The project steering group is led by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) together with the Museums Association and four other organisations who are funding the project – Arts Council England, the Museums Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and National Museums Northern Ireland.
Open up guide
We will shortly be launching a practical, online guide to support museum leaders and their teams to move beyond talk to action, and to make real and lasting change in the museums sector.
Co-created with museums
We have put together two groups of museums to help us co-create a suite of tools and guidance that will work well for a broad mix of museums (of different types, size, geographical locations etc.)
Working with 12 pioneering museums we have captured their stories of change, creating case studies to share within the guide.
We have developed a checklist of factors of success that have led to these museums significantly diversifying their visitors and we hope that this checklist can be useful to museum professionals as they spark conversation within their own teams about what’s working well and what they might need to change or develop.
These 12 museums (the ‘pioneers’ listed below) have also shared the questions they regularly ask of themselves and their potential visitors to continue to improve. We hope that these stories and questions will inspire and inform change in many other museums.
The museums taking part are:
- Beamish Museum (pioneer)
- Black Country Living Museum (pioneer)
- Museum of Cambridge (pioneer)
- Cardiff Story Museum (pioneer)
- Colchester and Ipswich Museums (pioneer)
- Museum of Croydon (explorer)
- Derby Museums (pioneer)
- Doncaster Heritage Services (explorer)
- Egypt Centre, Swansea (explorer)
- Glasgow Women’s Library (pioneer)
- National Justice Museum (explorer)
- National Museums Liverpool (pioneer)
- National Museums Northern Ireland (pioneer)
- Paisley Museum, Renfrewshire (explorer)
- People’s History Museum (explorer)
- National Museum of the Royal Navy, Northern Ireland (explorer)
- V&A (pioneer)
- National Museum Wales (pioneer)
- Wellcome Collection (explorer)
- Whitworth Art Gallery (pioneer)
Beyond the guide
This is just the start. We are reporting back to the steering group on recommendations for rolling out the tools and developing programmes of support to enable museums across the whole of the UK to implement the findings and help them to diversify the range of people engaging with their work.
Project steering group: