The impact of museums

Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, can inspire, challenge and stimulate us, and make us feel healthier.

With society facing issues such as poverty, inequality, intolerance and discrimination, museums can help us understand, debate, and challenge these concerns.

They can also enhance everyone’s life chances by breaking down barriers to access and inclusion. Museums are doing this through active public participation, engaging with diverse communities, and sharing collections and knowledge in ways that are transforming lives.

Museums of all sizes, with collections ranging from fine art to social history, are changing lives – often in partnership with community groups, health charities and other third sector organisations.

The Museums Association (MA) is campaigning for museums to develop their role as socially purposeful organisations and there is growing evidence that they are working with their communities and delivering positive social impact.

This type of work helps museums be more sustainable and the public benefits it generates underline the importance of continuing public investment in them.

Whether it’s Experience Barnsley Museum’s Dementia Cafe or Cardiff Story’s work with refugees and asylum seekers, museums across the UK are making a positive and lasting difference.

Maggie Appleton, the chief executive of the RAF Museum, and the MA’s president, says: “More museums, small and large, with different audiences and governance, are using their fabulous collections and creativity to build socially engaged practice. Such commitment is needed now more than ever and the Museums Change Lives document is both a powerful advocacy tool and a crystal clear statement of our intent.”

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