Support from museum leaders - Museums Association

Support from museum leaders

A range of leaders at museums across the UK tell us why they think the Front-of-House Charter for Change is so important.

Kathryn Thomson
Chief Executive, National Museums NI

“Front-of-house teams are what make our museums human. They represent our brands and core purpose every day with every interaction, creating positive and lasting experiences for all. With the establishment of a Charter for Change, we’re creating a real sense of belonging, respect and enrichment of front-of-house roles for the sector, something National Museums NI fully supports.”

Katy Ashton
Director, People’s History Museum

“This is the perfect time for us all to be taking note of the Front-of-House Charter for Change, as it’s never felt more important to look after the people who make our museums – and especially the people who provide such essential, valuable and high-quality experiences for our audiences and communities.

“The legacy and impact of the last two years is significant, and provides a huge opportunity for us to do things differently and make positive changes for the benefit of our visitor experience teams. The charter includes so many important principles we can all follow and clear actions we can all take in museums of all shapes and sizes. I look forward to seeing the change we can all make as we champion and deliver this Charter for Change.”

Christine McLean
Head of Cultural Heritage & Wellbeing, OnFife

“The Front-of-House Charter for Change marks a significant step forward in recognising and supporting staff who work in the frontline across the museums and heritage sector. They are literally the first point of contact for our visitors, they are ambassadors for and champions of the organisations they work for, and they work hard to maintain high professional standards.

“I’m delighted to see their role championed in this charter – a working document that should be used as a checklist for how museums value and develop their workforce. I am sure this will have a powerful impact on front-of-house staff and will increase their positive engagement with visitors.”

Nat Edwards
CEO, Thackray Museum of Medicine

“As someone who started my own museum career on the shop floor, I have to confess to having mixed feelings about the Charter for Change. On one hand, it’s a fantastic opportunity to address some of the real concerns that I share with front-of-house colleagues about fair pay and conditions, team wellbeing, career development and, perhaps most importantly, valuing the incredibly rich diversity of people in front of house roles as people rather than functions. It’s about empowering them to contribute their unique talents and experience in ways that make our museums better places for everyone.

“That’s fantastic, but there’s also a sobering unspoken question here, which is why are we having to demand really basic, common sense humanity when it comes to dealing with such a big and essential cohort in our sector? To me, that speaks to a fairly consistent failure by employers, unions and governing bodies to see the riches we are sitting right on top of.

“For all of our rhetoric about access, participation and diversity, we could put so much of that into practice if we just took the time to reflect on how we value that in our own places of work. I’m hoping that the charter will help organisations wake up to that – and act.”

Laura Pye
Director, National Museums Liverpool

“The Charter for Change provides the sector with a clear outline of the challenges faced by our colleagues in front-of-house roles and solid examples of how to overcome them. Museums require a wide range of specialism and expertise to provide the great visitor experiences we thrive on, and central to that is our front-of-house teams.”

Tony Butler
Executive Director, Derby Museums

“From the welcome, the cleanliness and efficiency of facilities, the quality of coffee, the knowledge about displays and exhibitions to the goodbye – the public judge the quality of a museum on the whole visitor experience. That experience is dependent on valued, confident, cared for and happy frontline staff. The Charter for Change is a comprehensive, thoughtful and practical guide to help museums who want to work towards a collaborative, holistic and sustainable way of making museums.

“At Derby Museums, in our co-produced collaborative approach, we speak about “putting the ‘us’ in museums – the charter will keep us honest by challenging ourselves to prove that we are doing it!”

Rowan Brown
Director, Museums Northumberland

“The Charter for Change is timely as we seek to address our colonial past, and the legacy of rigid hierarchical organisational structures. We owe a great debt to all of our colleagues in front-facing roles who have demonstrated incredible bravery throughout the pandemic, and whose work unlocks the joy our museums can bring.

“I hope the charter is a catalyst for real change in our sector, and that it ensures we value and support each other more equitably in the future. Thank you for this thorough and practical resource.”