St Fagans: National History Museum is part of an initiative run by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to increase participation

New website helps museums increase community engagement

Nicola Sullivan, 16.07.2015
Online resource aims to challenge common preconceptions about participation
A website has been launched to illustrate the ways in which museums and galleries can increase community engagement and participation through organisational change.

The website, launched by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, features material and case studies from the grant-making organisation’s Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners programme.

Among the museums involved are: Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives, Glasgow Museums, Tyne & Wear Archives & Galleries, Hackney Museum in London and National Museum Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru).
Aimed at museums, galleries, community groups and funding bodies, the website also contains animations, videos, audiovisual presentations and downloadable documents designed to help museums increase public participation.
The online resources in five categories: governance and leadership; staff and professional development; engaging with community partners; learning and evaluation; and structures.
It is hoped that the material will challenge some common perceptions about participation. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation wants to emphasise that increasing participation need not hinder financial growth; working with individual targeted communities is not enough on its own; and bolted-on outreach projects do not amount to substantial participation.

Regis Cochefert, the head of arts at Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said: “The organisations involved in the Our Museum programme have learnt a lot about organisational development to embed active community participation at the heart of their decision-making since starting working together in this Paul Hamlyn Foundation initiative. 

"I am delighted that they are now sharing their learning with the sector at large so that others can benefit from their experiments, risk-taking, things that didn’t always go to plan, and their successes."