Decolonisation Confidence and Skills programme - Museums Association

Decolonisation Confidence and Skills programme

We have recently launched our Decolonisation Confidence and Skills programme, which will provide support for people who work in and with museums to advance their decolonising practice through a series of in-person and online modules and events throughout 2022 and 2023.

We are now recruiting a cohort of people to be part of the Decolonisation Collective, and a cohort to join our Decolonisation Leaders’ Network. You can find information about both initiatives below.

Decolonisation Collective

What is the Decolonisation Collective?

The Decolonisation Collective will be a group of museum professionals embarking on a journey to learn about decolonisation and its importance to all areas of museum practice.

The programme will introduce you to some of the histories and theories that inform this and will help you tackle some common concerns and myths that have built up around it. Importantly, it will create a space for thinking, learning and reflection to support you as you develop your understanding and build an approach that sharpens the lens through which you look at all your work.

As part of the collective it is hoped that you will develop the confidence to become agents of change and be able to connect decolonial thinking and practice to contemporary inequalities and to the potential of the museum to shape our understanding of them.

What will it involve?

As part of the group, you’ll be among the first to access the Museum Essentials module Decolonisation in Museums – getting started, which will be launched later in the year. In addition, you will be invited to participate in a series of workshops, talks and events, which will highlight different aspects of decolonisation work and encourage reflection on a range of museum practices.  

These five events, spread out from September 2022 to June 2023, will be a chance to deepen your understanding of the issues and develop your thinking on the ideas that you will be introduced to in the Museum Essentials module. These events will be online, with the final event having an option of in-person attendance as well.

Importantly, you will have a forum to share your thoughts with others who are also newly embarking on this work. And as the first cohort of learners taking the module, you are going to be uniquely placed to feed back your experiences and help us shape the direction of the support we provide in this field.

Who can join?

The programme is for everyone who works in and with museums in the UK. It is aimed primarily at people who are coming to this area of thought and practice for the first time, but also contains content for those who have had some exposure to the ideas but want to learn more. 

Eligibility and selection criteria

Participation in this course is free – but spaces are limited.

We aim to recruit a cohort of 45 people. We would like participants to be from a broad range of backgrounds, in any role and from any type of museum, including those who work on a freelance basis with a variety of institutions. We would also like good representation from across the regions and nations of the UK.

There is no expectation of any prior knowledge or experience, but we would like to know a little about why you are interested in decolonisation in museums.

Participants will be selected on:

  • Interest in decolonisation and perspective on why this work is important
  • Understanding of the sector and the changes that need to happen to tackle contemporary, ongoing inequalities

To participate, you will need to be an MA essential or full member or employed at an institutional member organisation.

To apply, please complete the application form linked below by 25 July 2022.

Decolonisation Leaders’ Network

What is the Decolonisation Leaders’ Network?

The Decolonisation Leaders’ Network will be a cohort of museum professionals recruited to help influence policy, process and practice in the sector so that decolonisation is not only embedded into the everyday work of museums, but harnessed explicitly into conversations about contemporary inequalities, particularly around anti-racism.

The network will aim to influence a significant culture shift in the sector – in the past commitments to this work have too often been sporadic, piecemeal and overly dependent on extraneous funding streams or sudden shifts in the status quo. To break this cycle, we want to ask why, and create a cohort of people who can help ensure decolonisation stays on the map as a central pillar of all museum work. 

We hope that this will provide an opportunity for like-minded leaders to come together to share and innovate ideas and practice that will further ignite the potential for museums to be engines of progressive social change.

What will it involve?

The network will meet three times over the year of the commitment in various in-person locations as well as being accessible online. 

The three sessions will ask people to consider some of the challenging underlying questions of decolonial work, and will face some of the more uncomfortable, psychological barriers that inhibit progress.

They will be policy and action-led facilitated workshops. It is hoped that through this frank exploration the network will be able to develop practical strategies for change that they can advocate for across the sector.  

In addition, members of the network will be invited to attend events/talks/workshops that will be part of the Decolonisation Collective programme, so they are part of a wider conversation between those with experience of tackling decolonisation and those who are just starting to think about it.

The Decolonisation Leaders’ Network will also be asked to suggest and plan pathways and strategies for continuing this work into the future.

Who can join?

A ‘leader’ in this context may be anyone who is leading on this work in their museum and/or is able to effect real change, both within their institution and in the sector. Participants will need:

  • A good understanding/experience of at least one aspect of decolonisation theory/practice in museums
  • An awareness of how and why the sector needs to be more equal, diverse, and inclusive
  • An ability to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ practice and the courage to speak ‘truth to power’ on these issues
  • To be ready to challenge assumptions
  • A commitment to sharing ideas and knowledge
  • To have the full support of their organisation to explore change and grassroots innovation in this field
  • A commitment to embedding and moving this work forward, both within and beyond the lifetime of the network
Eligibility and selection criteria

We would like participants to be from a broad range of backgrounds, and representative of a wide range of types of museums, as well as reflecting the different regions and nations across the UK. 

If you are working to make significant changes in the field, this is a great opportunity to come together with others similarly motivated to move the conversation and practice to a new level of commitment and engagement.

We would like the network to have a good representation of people from historically underrepresented groups in the sector, not because they should bear primary responsibility for structural change around inequality, but because the voices of those with experience of being on the margins often add a nuance and perspective that is now critical if deep-rooted change is going to happen.

Participation in the Decolonisation Leaders’ Network is free, and you will need to be a full individual member of the MA to take part.

To apply, please complete the application form linked below by 25 July 2022.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Decolonisation Collective or the Decolonisation Leaders’ Network, please email the project lead, Roshi Naidoo, via roshi@museumsassociation.org.

Image credit to National Museums Liverpool, from their Project Sankofa

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