Mindsets + Missions for Museums and Science Centres of the Future - Museums Association

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Mindsets + Missions for Museums and Science Centres of the Future

Community engagement with research and innovation given a boost with new grants awarded to 12 UK museums and science centres

Funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has been awarded to twelve outstanding projects by UK museums and science centres. The grants, totalling £827,945, have been made available as part of the Mindsets + Missions programme being delivered by the Museums Association in partnership with the Association for Science and Discovery Centres and The Liminal Space

Mindsets + Missions is a pilot learning and grants programme designed to support museums, science centres and vibrant individuals from the sectors to realise new and creative approaches to serving their communities through inclusive research-related projects.

People sitting and smiling at a table
Credit to The Liminal Space, photo by Mark Newton

“With our new public engagement strategy, UKRI’s ambition is to break down the barriers between research, innovation and society. We are excited to be working with these 12 organisations to explore the diverse ways that museums and science centres can open up research and innovation and connect with underrepresented groups. Through this work we seek to put inclusivity at the heart of future museum and science centre engagement with research and innovation.”

Tom Saunders, head of public engagement, UKRI

The 12 projects are dedicated to making cultural and civic engagement possible for everyone. They will bring diverse and plural perspectives to the development of the knowledge, research and innovation needed to build our future societies.

And through co-development and participatory practice, they will explore local and global issues, and generate ideas and outputs with the power to improve lives. As case study projects, they will help our museums and science centres to become more equitable and representative.

The other grantees and their projects are listed below, and we encourage you to visit this page again for more project spotlights, learning insights and more.

Discovering42 – ‘Inclusive Interactivity’ will empower people with lived experience to guide the design and development of hands-on exhibits for museums and science centres which are more inclusive of people with limited mobility.

Fitzwilliam Museum – ‘Future/Power’ assembles around the forthcoming exhibition ‘Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance’, which examines the legacies of enslavement at Cambridge, to generate co-research, youth voice and engagement in local history through a Black history lens.

Kielder Observatory – ‘The North East Astro-Imaging Academy’ represents a mission to democratise access to astrophotography, to connect people in areas of socio-economic disadvantage with their dark skies heritage, and to empower them to participate in the generation of imagery and data to enrich academic research and further our understanding of the universe.

Manchester Museum – ‘Belonging in the Wild’ aims to catalyse new knowledge production and a step-change in equitable working with people with lived experience of disability by investigating and prioritising their understandings of the natural world, environmental action and social justice. 

National Windrush Museum – ‘Enhancing Cultural Visualisation’ embraces innovation by focusing on collecting, preserving and visually showcasing Windrush narratives, promoting the Windrush 75th anniversary, engaging diverse audiences and preserving Windrush legacies. 

Queer Britain – ‘Stories + Strategies’ will work to increase recognition of oral histories as valuable and impactful research practice and resources – focusing on LGBTQ+ histories – and reduce barriers against full inclusion of queer stories and heritage in museums, science centres and their connected sectors.

Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium – ‘The Sound of Biodiversity’ is a one-year pathfinder project, bringing together a ‘community-based learning eco-system’ to develop a new approach to engaging young children with science and nature through sustainability research.

Xplore! Science Discovery Centre – ‘A Place of Lifelong Learning’ will collaborate with diverse groups to develop initiatives which have significant, positive influences on people’s lives, and work to develop museums and science centres as places of lifelong learning.

Made with Padlet

We are delighted to be supporting museums and science centres to push the boundaries and possibilities of equitable and inclusive participation in UK research and innovation. ASDC recognises the value of our sector for challenging the inequalities of power, access and opportunity in STEM, and we are eager to share all the incredible learning and inspirational practice that emerges from Mindsets + Missions.

Shaaron Leverment, chief executive, ASDC
A notebook on top of a desk
Credit to The Liminal Space, photo by Mark Newton

Learning insights

The diverse portfolio of cross-sectoral, boundary-pushing projects has grown from a strong pool of applicants who were all involved in the Mindsets + Missions learning programme run in early 2023.

Led by The Liminal Space, participants from throughout the UK explored the central tenets of the Mindsets + Missions programme, developed partnerships and collaborations, and enhanced their practice and approach to research and innovation.

You can now read the learning insights report from The Liminal Space to find out more about the Mindsets + Missions learning programme.

Moving to the programme’s next phase of supporting projects and continuing to bring together a cross-sectoral cohort of practitioners, researchers and experts by lived experience, Mindsets + Missions aims to:

  • Explore new and evidenced ways to engage underrepresented groups with research and innovation.
  • Champion and inspire bold and creative practices in the museums and science centre sectors.
  • Create resources and tools to support museums and science centres in this work.
  • Share learning with the wider sector, including researchers, engagement practitioners and funders.

Having worked with the grantees on the Mindsets + Missions learning programme, we’re really excited to see these original new voices deliver an incredible diversity of brave and bold projects. We’re certain their work will inspire others within the museums and science centre sectors to embed positive change.

Sarah Douglas, founding director, The Liminal Space

Mindsets + Missions is funded by UKRI in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Mindsets + Missions builds on a rich foundation of research and experience: the Mindsets for Museums of the Future report; Science and Discovery Centre Futures: Missions and Opportunities report; the Bold Futures programme; Inspiring Science Fund; Museums Change Lives; Digital Innovation and Engagement grants across museums and science centres; Explore Your Universe; and more.

“Mindsets + Missions is proving to be a driving force for creating an ever more equitable and socially engaged sector, and we are proud to be supporting these 12 changemaking organisations. All too often research and innovation are seen to be the preserve of a privileged few and I look forward to seeing how the museums in this programme will work with underrepresented communities to support them to develop their own research and innovation agendas.

“It is also our pleasure to deliver this pilot programme in partnership with the Association of Science and Discovery Centres and The Liminal Space, which demonstrates the exciting possibilities and deep learning that can come from cross-sectoral collaborations.”

Sharon Heal, director, Museums Association

For more information, please contact the Mindsets + Missions project officer, Craig Smith, via craig@museumsassociation.org.

Mindsets + Missions, UKRI, ASDC, the Liminal Space, Museums Association
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