Diversifying museums

Hilary Carty, 20.02.2017
Have you considered applying to Transformers: Diversify?
Since 2014, I’ve had the pleasure of working on Transformers: Radical Change in Museums.

It’s been quite a journey, with more than 46 fantastic individuals delivering radical change projects, influencing in their organisations and forming a strong network of peers.

Transformers is an ambitious programme and each year our participants enter the programme ready for change, but not quite knowing what to expect.

At the final event we explore whether the transformation has happened. Has the impact really been that dynamic? Each year, as the programme comes to a close, we witness a huge increase in confidence and a resounding “Yes!”

Big shifts do indeed take place: shifts in outcomes, most certainly; but also in understanding, in perspectives, in attitude to risk; and in values – personal and organisational. Other changes are “work-in-progress”, not quite there yet, “aligned, not yet transformed”. But the momentum is tangible and success is infectious.

Most importantly, there’s a new network, supporting each other on the journey, offering inspiration and encouragement to keep stepping forward in the knowledge that colleagues walk alongside.

In 2016, we explored equality, diversity and inclusion in the museums sector as part of the Transformers programme for our report Valuing Diversity: The Case for Inclusive Museums.

What we found wasn’t surprising – the sector is not diverse and change still needs to happen. For this reason, we’ve set up Transformers: Diversify.

This strand of the programme will offer a space for people to think through equality, diversity and inclusion and consider ways that our museums can become more inclusive.

To develop the programme, I’m working with the fantastic Sarah Pickthall who co-founded the international leadership programme Sync.

On the residential and action learning day we’ll have inspiration from Sara Wajid, the founder of Museum Detox, Richard Sandell who brings with him a lifetime of social justice work, Charlie Craggs, the award winning trans activist, Marc Steene, the director of Outside In, Jenny Sealey, the artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company and Hassan Mahamdallie who wrote the Creative Case for Diversity.

We’ll support the cohort to connect, reflect and cook up change, inspired by the amazing work our guest speakers carry out.

So who is it for? We hope that some applicants to Diversify will identify as from a diverse background and that some participants will simply want to make change happen.

One thing that has made Transformers such a success in the past is the rich mix of perspectives, disciplines and backgrounds in the cohort.

The Diversify cohort will be no exception. What we are creating is a space where people from lots of different backgrounds come together to get a better understanding of the challenges and together, generate ideas for change.

Unlike Transformers: Innovate you don’t have to be working in a museum at the moment to apply. So freelancers and volunteers are welcome too.

We can’t wait to start this new journey. We know that people will gain more confidence, a new perspective, a can-do attitude to risk and most importantly a new network, walking alongside on the journey to making museums that are truly 21st century.

Hilary Carty is a museum consultant. She will be chairing the Museums Association's event Moving On Up.

Links and downloads

Transformers 2016-18