Empowering Collections - Museums Association

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Empowering Collections

A strategy for the future of our collections

Empowering Collections calls for museums, funders and policy-makers to work together to ensure that museum collections are empowering, relevant and dynamic. It sets out a series of eleven key recommendations to make this a reality:

  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 A focus on reinterpretation of out-of-date displays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

We are working with members and stakeholders and through our funded programmes to help to realise the aims set out in the Empowering Collections paper.

Empowering Collections is based on the Collections 2030 research project we carried out during 2018-19. Over 1,000 people from across the museums sector participated in consultation sessions and responded to our discussion paper.

This research built on recent reports such as the Museums Taskforce, Mendoza Review, Culture is Digital, Why Collect? and the Expert Review of Local Museums in Wales. The research looked at changes to museums and their role in society, and examined how collections use and management needed to adapt to change.

A reference group, made up of sector organisations, acted as a critical friend, while a steering group of museum professionals determined the direction of the research.

Reference group

The reference group included Arts Council England, Museums Galleries Scotland, Museums, Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales, the Art Fund, the National Museum Directors Council, the Association of Independent Museums, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Collections Trust, the Northern Ireland Museums Council, and the Museums Development Network.

Steering group

The steering group members were Gillian Findlay, the curatorial and engagement manager at Edinburgh Museum and Galleries, Sally Macdonald, the director of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, Owain Rhys, the community engagement and participation manager at National Museum Wales, Simon Cane, the director of public and cultural engagement at UCL Culture, and Steve Miller, the head of Norfolk Museums Service.