Invest in people, Taylor tells museum conference in India

Patrick Steel, 17.02.2014
MA director speaks at Strategic Transformations in Kolkata
To transform itself, a museum must invest time, thought, effort and money to “recruit the right people with the right skills”, the Museums Association's (MA) director, Mark Taylor, told delegates at Strategic Transformations: Museums in 21st Century at the Indian Museum in Kolkata.

Museums should shrug off their traditional role as static, building-based, collections-driven, curator-dominated, insular, publicly subsidised organisations for middle-class people and embrace a transformed role as open, accessible, inclusive, income-generating, digital, educational, democratic organisations connected to their communities and concerned with social justice, he said.

But to do this the management profile should change from academically-minded directors whose first allegiance is to the collections, to experienced museum professionals who have a range of management and leadership skills and whose first allegiance is to the visitor.

“It is not just curatorship that is needed,” he said. “It is individuals from a range of professions, from accountants to PR to education, retail and marketing.

“And even the curators have to adapt, have to develop a greater range of competencies over and above simply academic knowledge of the collections.”

Taylor pointed to Museums Change Lives as a blueprint for any museum looking to transform itself, and also stressed the importance of a diverse workforce.

To read the full speech, please click here (word)


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Mark Taylor
MA Member
Director, Museums Association
26.03.2014, 13:44
You make some fair points. Internships and apprentices tend to be focussed on younger people - at the government exhortation. With the changes in economics and demographics, museums have to be more imaginative and resourceful in recruiting the right people, paid or unpaid. It is in their own interests as they are missing out on some key skills.
MA Member
20.03.2014, 11:12
Hi Mark, you mention that the sector needs “...individuals from a range of professions, from accountants to PR to education, retail and marketing' but I've been volunteering for nearly a year in the cultural sector but I’ve found it hard to get volunteer work that utilises my skills in education, training & digital technology. I have an MA in Digital Heritage.

Your speech alludes to the challenges and identifies what the sector should consider in order to have a more diverse workforce. In line with this, might the MA advocate for an internship for mature graduates and/or volunteer positions that focus on particular skill shortages targeted at individuals entering from outside the sector? It would also be helpful for digital volunteering to be further pushed, as I suspect, there might be others out there (like myself), who for family reasons are unable to move to London, where a majority of the work is.

I think you’re on the right track and I’m pleased that you’ve opened the debate!