Issue 114/04, p15, 01.04.2014
What makes a resilient museum?
Gaby Porter, consultant (additional material from Clare Moran)
“The capacity to adapt: to reactively respond to external pressures and proactively transform itself as times change.
Resilient museums articulate their values and purpose clearly, enabling them to respond flexibly but maintain stability while changing. Resilience strengthens organisations and reduces the likelihood of major shocks that threaten survival.
People who work in them are alert to new perspectives and possibilities; willing to grasp complexity; sensitive to context; making constant shifts in thinking and behaviour to fulfil their potential.”
Fiona Talbott, head of museums, libraries, archives, Heritage Lottery Fund
“Resilience in any heritage organisation is a priority for the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our knowledge, experience and research provide the tools for us to identify the key characteristics for a successful museum.
The starting point is a leader who possesses both clarity and vision for the long term and is also flexible enough to change tack if required.
Museums that stand the test of time regularly review their governance and management. There is also the need to build up and diversify income streams. Finally, true resilience comes from a museum rooted in its community.”
Anna Brennand, chief executive, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust
“Change is the only constant so a resilient museum is one which is able to anticipate and scenario plan effectively and one which makes adjustments to its way of working to accommodate expected and unexpected changes.
“A resilient museum is one which is able to adapt and change and seize opportunities as soon as they become available. It remains true to its core purpose and it has a creative, flexible leadership and workforce, with strong governance that enables calculated risks to be taken.
Resilient museums are also collaborative and work in partnership for mutual benefit.”
Andrew Lovett, director and chief executive, Black Country Living Museum
“Have a vision that gets the pulse racing.
Stay true to what matters to you and always be proud of what you’re doing.
Think ‘customers’ not ‘visitors’.
Hire as much for attitude, as skill.
Budgeting is a test of ability, not arithmetic.
Cash is king and income and profit are not the same thing.
Hiring and developing a great team is essential, as well as being a delight.
Anticipate challenges and plan the future.
Establish a brand.
Work hard but have fun.”