Collections for the future

'Too many museum collections are underused - not displayed, published, used for research or even understood by the institutions that care for them.' Jane Glaister, former president of the MA

When it was published in 2005, Collections for the Future aimed to reinvigorate the debate about museum collections and to move it further up the policy agenda.

It set out suggestions and recommendations for ways that museums could improve engagement with museum collections and the ideas associated with them: how they could make their collections more dynamic by revisiting approaches to acquisitions, disposal and collections mobility; and how they could work together to share knowledge and develop museum professionals for the future.

Much has changed in the time since the report was published and so in July 2007 the MA published Making Collections Effective, an update to the original Collections for the Future report. Links to each of the reports can be found below.

The Collections for the Future report was the result of a major MA inquiry in 2004 and 2005 into collections and their use. The inquiry was chaired by Jane Glaister who led a steering group including some of the leading thinkers on collections from the UK and overseas.

Two working groups met to explore particular issues in more depth and the MA embarked on a consultation exercise looking for comments and contributions from right across the cultural sector. Altogether, over 500 people contributed their views, both at meetings and in writing.

As part of the inquiry, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation funded detailed research, exploring the issue of underused collections in more depth. Reports made during the inquiry are also available to download below.


For information about the MA's other collections work, click here

If you have any queries, please email Sally Colvin, the MA's collections coordinator: sally@museumsassociation.org