Introduction - Museums Association


The Museums Association (MA) campaigns for inclusive museums that are committed to fair working conditions and that support workforce and community wellbeing.

Our workforce wellbeing research provides a clear picture of the sector by identifying:

  • The current individual wellbeing of people working in and with museums
  • The factors at an individual, organisational and sector level that affect individual wellbeing
  • Ideas and priorities for action to positively impact wellbeing

We define wellbeing as the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy; wellbeing is affected by our experience of life and our experience of work. While we often look at wellbeing from an individual’s perspective, good workforce wellbeing is also an indicator of a well functioning and productive organisation. 

Wellbeing is affected by a range of factors, for example autonomy and inclusion, recognition and support, workload and physical comfort and safety. Museums have an ethical and legal responsibility to create a safe and secure workplace, both physically and psychologically, for all those that work with them.

In recent years we have experienced unprecedented change as a result of the pandemic and more recently the cost-of-living crisis. We have faced the challenges of redeployment, furlough and redundancy, as well as coming to terms with the new world of work. 

During the lockdowns museum workers worked tirelessly to create a sense of meaning and belonging for communities, providing them with hope and supporting community wellbeing, sometimes at a cost to their own. We know that community-facing roles can face even greater complexities and challenges in terms of wellbeing.

Our research highlights that for many people the experience of work is not positive, and that wellbeing has been negatively affected in the past few years. The research also shows a significant difference in how organisations support their workforce.

Participation in the research was high, with 658 people responding to an anonymised questionnaire and a respondent profile, which is representative of the sector workforce.

The findings from this research informs our community and workforce wellbeing campaign, as we know we need to look after ourselves and our colleagues in order to support community wellbeing.

Creating a culture of care where everyone who works with us has their wellbeing prioritised not only supports everyone to realise their potential but also addresses other needs across the sector, including: 

  • Attracting and retaining diverse talent – by supporting and nurturing all staff
  • Enabling agile and flexible working – by trusting and empowering staff 
  • Collaborating and co-producing with communities to support wellbeing

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey and share their experience. The research and recommendations should be read and embraced by museums, sector support organisations, funders, leaders, trustees and managers, and all those with a duty of care for others.