Collections learning

The Collections Learning Hub is designed to encourage museum practitioners to exchange skills, know-how and information about collections and share ways of making collections work more effectively for their museum and communities.

The MA Effective Collections programme, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, distributed £1m to all shapes and sizes of museum between 2009-12. Their task was to make better use of their stored collections.

Read about the project here

A great deal of informal learning took place among practitioners involved – from colleagues within and across museums, from specialist experts brought in to help on collections reviews, from volunteer enthusiasts and interest groups. And practitioners learned from a wide range of new partners from outside the sector – gaining insights about how to reach new audiences, participants and friends and give them a stake in collections.

Use the Comments page to say what you think about the Collections Learning Hub and how you might use it for your own development and as a resource for staff training. Suggest ways of sharing learning that have worked for you. 

What did practitioners learn?

Successful Effective Collections projects were ones where staff learned something new:

  • about their collections and how to manage them
  • about the process of collections review and how to get the best from experts
  • how to validate decisions about collections with and without external expert help
  • how to set in train long-term plans for reviewing other collections within the museum
  • how to work with museum partners and other organisations for mutual benefit
  • how to engage with and reach the formerly unreached in the community
  • how to recruit and keep volunteers
  • how to engage management and gain their understanding of the strategic value of the project
  • how to dispose of objects ethically and with confidence


Effective Collections Programme: a springboard for change

Key project outcomes:

  • Improvements in collections policy and practice
  • Extension of practice to other collections
  • Positive impact on the museum offer  
  • Public engagement 
  • New partnerships
  • Additional funding
  • Increased confidence
  • Practitioners learned something new and applied what was learned




Collections Learning Hub developed by Nylon Walnut