Since 2011 the Happy Museum Project has been bringing together thinking around sustainability and wellbeing. The project has explored how these, together, offer an approach to creating more sustainable and resilient museums and communities. The project worked with a growing number of individuals and museums through funded commissions, peer learning, open workshops and the creation and sharing of a suite of tools and resources.
In late 2014 the project published a 5-year Plan outlining a programme of activity at the completion of they intend to disband. A key element of this programme, the new Affiliate Scheme, offers the opportunity for a wider network of individuals and organisations to connect with, and contribute to, the development of Happy Museum thinking and practice. It will create a peer learning network which will:
*Work with a positive frame for practical action which puts societal wellbeing at its heart
*Form a supportive and collaborative group in which to share practice and build learning
*Encourage exploration of the particular role of museums and culture in addressing the big issues – such as climate change and social justice
*Connect with relevant thinkers in fields such as economics, ecology and psychology
*Provide the opportunity to experiment, innovate, reflect, connect and play
Affiliates may be cultural organisations as well as museums. They may be departments. They may be individuals working with or in a museum/cultural organisation.
“The [Affiliate Scheme] understands that museums are well-placed to open up wider societal conversations about difficult and challenging topics and should model this by developing resilience in their own staff and communities…it acknowledges that investment in people is key!” Kate Forde, Senior Curator, Wellcome Trust
The scheme will be underpinned by the principles of give and gain developed by Project Phakama in ground-breaking work in South Africa. Through this process ‘learning becomes two-way; everyone has something they can give to the project and everyone has something to gain. And through this interchange of skills, knowledge, information and ideas, everyone becomes both student and teacher.’
The aim is to keep the scheme light touch and financially, organisationally and individually sustainable, taking ideas from the sharing and gift economy (how about museum B&B where host organisations offer accommodation to visiting peers?) and open source learning – including online and social media alongside face-to-face gatherings.