Introducing Decolonisation in Museums - Museums Association

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Introducing Decolonisation in Museums

Introducing Decolonisation in Museums is one of a number of courses that sits within the Museums Association's Museum Essentials Programme. 

This course is for everyone who works in and with museums, and those interested in joining the sector. It aims to introduce you to the ideas and issues around decolonisation so you can embark on this work with confidence and clarity of purpose.

If you have come to this course, you should have looked at the Museums Association guidance document, ‘Supporting Decolonisation in Museums’ and want to learn more. If you haven’t, it is a good place to begin, to give you an overview of the many different discussions and issues that currently live under the word ‘decolonisation’ and to help you to get started.

Most of our online learning courses will support your awareness and practice at levels 1 and 2 of the competency framework.

However, the content and exercises in this course will help you to achieve some level 3 competencies, for example:
• Challenges structural inequalities and all forms of intolerance, discrimination, and marginalisation.
• Encourage an open, safe and approachable environment by listening and not judging.
• Acknowledges different and sometimes conflicting outlooks and demonstrates willingness to find common ground.

This course will most likely take longer to engage with and to complete than our other Museum Essentials courses. 15 hours would be the minimum time we suggest and we recommend you approach this in the following way:

a) Please start with the Museums Essentials Anti-Racism Module as a foundation before you embark on ‘Introducing Decolonisation in Museums’.

b) Approach the course block by block and allow yourself time in between for reflection and to record your engagement.

c) Revisit sections if you need to before you move on. You may wish to return to the video clips and watch them all, rather than just the segment identified for the exercises.

It is for this reason that we do not always suggest a specific time for exercises. Take your time – decolonisation work is difficult and emotive. It requires huge shifts in how we think about and perceive the world. It asks for you to reflect on your personal and professional behaviour; on your thinking and everyday assumptions; and on some of your unspoken anxieties.

If you take time to do this now you will save time later by doing work that is more nuanced, rewarding and relevant to the communities you serve.

The course is divided into 5 sections or blocks with 5 lessons in each section.

Introducing Decolonisation in Museums is supported by the Museum Association’s Competency Framework. The framework has been developed to support individual professional development and career progression.

All the competencies relate to decolonising, the ones most associated are Leading and Change Making, and Sustaining Relationships and Partnerships. For more information about the Competency Framework and the MA’s professional development programmes, please click here.

This course on its own is not a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide to decolonise your museum. However, it will point you to the questions you should be asking, the information to seek out, the research you need to do, the connections you should be making, and some of the taken-for-granted behaviours and practices that require challenging.

The Museums Association’s ‘Communicating Decolonisation’ is a useful companion document, which you may find useful to read before you embark on the course. We will also signpost further learning opportunities in the final section of the course.

To begin the course, click on "Introduction" below.

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