Diversify: a brief history

In 1998, working with a range of partners, particularly the Museum Studies Department at University of Leicester, the Diversify scheme began with the MA establishing a sustainable programme of entry-level positive-action bursaries and traineeships.

The great majority of participants went on to work in museums. In 2006 Diversify introduced management-level traineeships. All four trainees went on to work in the sector.

In 2008 the MA, in partnership with the University of Leicester and Colchester & Ipswich Museum Service with support from Shape, piloted the first Bill Kirby traineeship for people with disabilities. More followed.

2010 saw the scheme diversify itself to include people from less affluent backgrounds.

The MA wanted to make museum careers more accessible to people who could not afford to pay for training or to volunteer extensively and whose background and family circumstances may have made it hard for them pursue a museum career.

In 2010-11, Next Step grants aimed to support people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities who were already working in and for museums and heritage organisations to develop their skills, knowledge and experience.

The grant provided funding to mid-career individuals to spend on career development, and in 2010, the Support and Challenge programme helped museums with their workforce diversification plans.

In total, over 130 people were directly helped in their museum career by the Diversify scheme.

The Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA), through Renaissance – its regional museums programme, was Diversify’s main funder.

Additional support came from the museums and galleries hosting placements and traineeships, universities and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Please note that 2010-11 was the final round of Diversify traineeships. The Museums Association will not be recruiting any further rounds.