The impact of museums

Museums are changing lives every day
Museums can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, can inspire, challenge and stimulate us, and make us feel healthier.

With society facing issues such as poverty, inequality, intolerance and discrimination, museums can help us understand, debate, and challenge these concerns.

They can also enhance everyone’s life chances by breaking down barriers to access and inclusion. Museums are doing this through active public participation, engaging with diverse communities, and sharing collections and knowledge in ways that are transforming lives.

Museums of all sizes, with collections ranging from fine art to social history, are changing lives – often in partnership with community groups, health charities and other third sector organisations.

The Museums Association (MA) is campaigning for museums to develop their role as socially purposeful organisations and there is growing evidence that they are working with their communities and delivering positive social impact.

This type of work helps museums be more sustainable and the public benefits it generates underline the importance of continuing public investment in them.

Whether it’s Experience Barnsley Museum’s Dementia Cafe or Cardiff Story’s work with refugees and asylum seekers, museums across the UK are making a positive and lasting difference.

David Fleming, the director of National Museums Liverpool, and the MA's president, says: "Museums Change Lives is a powerful statement of the difference that modern museums can make. It shows that they can be an essential part of the fabric of society and relevant to diverse and changing communities.

"It has a strong international resonance and has been discussed at events from Albania and Argentina to Taiwan and Ukraine. It is having enormous influence around the world.

"This is a movement for our times; a framework for promoting real impact by all museums, regardless of location, collection or mode of funding. I am delighted that the MA is continuing to promote its ambitious vision."

Links and downloads

Museums Change Lives 2017 (pdf)

Museums Change Lives 2017 [Welsh] (pdf)