Dream, Stuart Rayner. Part of Channel 4's Big Art Project, supported by the Art Fund and Arts Council England. Photographer Karen White.

Regional museums

ACE has been responsible for regional museums since 2011. We’re pleased with how it’s going
ACE set out its thinking about museums and its goals for what the sector should achieve in a document called Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone.

To help ACE develop its thinking, the Museums Association has published its response.

We think the excellence of a museum is defined by the breadth and depth of its impacts – the difference it makes to individuals, to communities and to society.

We’re saying more about this as part of our Museums 2020 programme.

In the past, there has been willingness to fund back-of-house work with an assumption that it will lead to public benefit but without any clear plan for ensuring it does so.

We think ACE should focus its investment on achieving a high quality museum and gallery service for everyone in England: transforming the sector’s public benefit and impact.

We welcome ACE’s recognition of the importance of workforce diversity and urge ACE to allocate resources to workforce diversification and broadening entry routes.

We are also pleased that ACE is helping for museums to be greener – both issues on which the MA has long campaigned.

On workforce, we hope that ACE will also:

• Help address skills needs around business and entrepreneurship; participation and co-production; partnership working; and advocacy

• Enable peer support and learning, coaching and facilitation

• Promote inclusive working practices, valuing the input into decision-making of the full range of staff, volunteers and community partners

• In the longer term, improve career structures and address low pay

And more generally, we also urge ACE to:

• Encourage museums to offer opportunities to people and communities to actively participate and co-produce

• Support museums to focus on quality of engagement with, and impact on, diverse audiences, rather than growth in attendance for its own sake

• Help museums collaborate and partner with organisations beyond the cultural sector

Developing ACE’s goals

In 2011, to help ACE develop its thinking, the Museums Association made a range of suggestions to ACE:

To download the MA's proposals, click here (pdf)

We also consulted our members on what they thought ACE should prioritise. You can read what we found here:

Download the MA's consultation findings here (pdf)

We are pleased that many of the points we made were reflected in ACE’s Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone.

Museum development and support for museums

We think ACE now needs to review and rationalise its support for museums.

Sector-wide programmes may take up to 15% of ACE’s museum funding. However, the existing range of advisory and support agencies, frameworks and networks should be simplified.

They need to have the aim of supporting museums’ ability to achieve ACE’s overarching goals and strengthening the sector’s ability to achieve greater impact and public benefit.

Areas that need to be reviewed together - and given clarity and coherence - include museum development, workforce development, collections advice and the Collections Trust, support for museums to achieve Accreditation, and the Subject Specialist Networks.


Arts Council England has announced funding allocations for major regional museums in England.

A number of museums, including former hub museums and new consortia, received Renaissance Major Grant funding.

A number of former hub museums missed out, and have been offered transitional funding to help them make the change.