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Museums Association Seeks "Culture Change" in Collections Practice

The Museums Association has published its new strategy for the future of collections, following the completion of the Collections 2030 research project.


Empowering Collections outlines a set of recommendations for museums, funders and sector bodies that aim to ensure museum collections are empowering, relevant and dynamic. The strategy stems from the Museums Association’s research in 2018, which included consultation with the sector on the Collections 2030 discussion paper.

Icon endorsed the aims of Collections 2030 to unlock the full potential of collections and to encourage museums to think strategically about their management and use. Our response highlighted the need for the strategy to be inclusive of the range of disciplines represented by museums and to celebrate the potential of conservation and heritage science to deliver public benefit within museums.

The finished strategy includes recommendations supportive of our arguments. Empowering Collections proposes a “culture change” that would see museums work “towards more integrated and fluid internal structures that enable all staff to work with collections and communities and to share their expertise in both areas.” A move from siloed working could leave room for conservation to be seen as more than an enabler of other museum practice and to be included within more outward-facing activities.

Icon’s response also discussed how a skilled and diverse workforce is integral to the sustainability and success of collections. The strategy acknowledges the need for greater diversity, highlighting relevance, resources and skills as a challenge for museums. The sector is urged to invest in skills and to work collaboratively towards improving the diversity of the workforce.

The strategy’s list of recommendations includes:

1.    A Culture Change in Collections Practice

2.    A Proactive Approach to the Democratisation and Decolonisation of Collections

3.    A Focus on Reinterpretation of Out-of-Date Displays

4.    Research to Understand Public Expectations of Collections

5.    Strategic Collecting in Partnership with Communities

6.    A Strategic Approach to Online Collections

7.    Use Collections Projects to Create Social Impact, Embed Knowledge and Build Legacy

8.    Support Partnerships and Knowledge Sharing

9.    Improve Training and Funding for the Rationalisation of Museum Collections

10.  Improve Transparency and Accessibility of Museum Collections Online

11.  Explore Shared Storage Solutions


Image: Creative Commons


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