Mark Carnall, the collections manager (Life Collections), Oxford University Museum of Natural History


Issue 115/12, p15, 01.12.2015
What will be the main challenges for museums in 2016?
Mark Carnall, the collections manager (Life Collections), Oxford University Museum of Natural History

“The biggest challenge to many museums will be keeping the doors open and the lights on without compromising an ethos of accessibility. Museum professionals have to have broader skillsets than ever before, while cuts and changes in funding models are piling on the pressure. These factors are making aspirations for increased diversity, becoming genuinely digital and getting the basics right in the first place more challenging. How do we stop brain drain from the sector when there is little left to keep our experts or attract new bright minds?”


Heledd Fychan, the corporate affairs and advocacy manager, Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales)

“It is likely to be a make or break year for many museums in Wales. With budgets uncertain, and resources already cut to the bone, we are all looking for radical solutions to ensure our survival. Many local museums are pinning their hopes on the government response to the Expert Review of Local Museum Provision in Wales, which is expected early in the new year, along with a new museum strategy. Advocacy for the sector will continue to be essential, as museums make the case regarding the important role they play in communities across Wales.”


Paddy Gilmore, the director of learning and partnerships, National Museums Northern Ireland

“A review of government departments places National Museums Northern Ireland in the new Department for Communities, and there is uncertainty about the influence of culture and heritage in what will be the largest department. Sustainability will remain high on the agenda of all museums. Despite discussions around new business delivery models, there is no silver bullet. Museums will be challenged to maintain quality provision with less money. It will be difficult to maintain staff morale as we struggle to deliver new programmes and services.”


Morag Macpherson, the cultural operations and development manager, Renfrewshire Leisure

“We’re in a lucky and relatively unusual position – we’re preparing a major museum redevelopment, with significant investment from the council as Paisley bids to become the UK City of Culture in 2021. I think that the biggest challenge in 2016 will be for museums to adapt to the shape that they now have, and get used to what they can and can’t achieve. The ‘more with less’ austerity doctrine has been the reality for a few years now, but you can’t keep on indefinitely doing more with less. This is a time for tough decisions and resolve.”