The policy column

Iain Watson, Issue 114/11, p17, 01.11.2014
Our ideology will always be Museums Change Lives
Talking to Museums Association (MA) staff recently, I was reminded that 25 years ago I was involved with the organisation’s 100th anniversary.

The MA and the museum business has changed hugely over the past 25 years. It was a period of significant financial challenges, with issues such as rate capping hitting local authority budgets hard.

The MA must remain a membership organisation and be responsive to the needs and wishes of members. As MA president David Anderson said at our recent conference, the key priorities of members are challenging the cuts, advocating for the value and impact of museums and promoting Museums Change Lives. This gives us a clear strategic direction for the next few years.

With mass communication within the reach of almost everyone, it is essential that we work out how to join members up and use the power of the membership. Six thousand knowledgeable and passionate individual members, as well as institutional and corporate members bringing their own networks and influences, is a powerful constituency.

The MA website, blogs and LinkedIn groups encourage members and others to join in debate, and it is encouraging to see that some issues encourage much interaction.

Museums Change Lives is our clear mission and direction. It is the value and impact of museums, and their ability to change lives, that is the greatest argument to challenge the cuts and to argue for increased investment in museums. Museums Change Lives is why we get out of bed in the morning.

Iain Watson is the director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and a member of the MA board


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13.11.2014, 09:54
My life has certainly been 'changed'... for I am being barred from a public membership scheme of a national museum, even though they have never produced one fragment of evidence that would support such draconian action.
Consequently, I am restricted from receiving concessionary rates (20 months now), that are widely available to any law-abiding citizen of the UK... that is, the general public, which of course 'part-publicly funds' aforementioned organisation.
With my local MP refusing to submit a request of investigation to the parliamentary ombudsman and the museum blocking my invitation to meet and discuss the situation, my only recourse is to challenge allegations b taking legal consultation. And all this from an institution that poports to be flexible & conversational.
Yes, museums do indeed wield significant power to inspire and educate, but they can also protect many individuals who do not take too kindly to enthusiasts, no matter how valid the constructive criticism may be.