Julie Aldridge Associates with Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis have been appointed to undertake a ground breaking project that will help museums to increase the diversity of their visitors.
The key focus of the project will be on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change in their organisations to achieve this. It will focus on how to attract more people to a museum’s core offer, rather than engaging with them through special projects, which are increasingly challenging to sustain in the current financial climate. The consultants will be working directly with museums, using co-production techniques, to investigate the challenges and develop ways of helping museums make the progress they want to in this area.
The project is being led by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM). The project steering group includes AIM and four other organisations who are funding the project – Arts Council England, the Museums Archives and Libraries Division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and National Museums Northern Ireland – as well as the Museums Association and people working in museums that have specialised in this area. The project will cover museums of all types, across the whole UK.
Image: Courtesy of Black Country Living Museum, Dudley
Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM, said “There has been a huge amount of interest in this project already. By attracting new audiences, museums better fulfil their missions and increase their sustainability, so it is an extremely important area on which to focus. AIM’s 2016 research into the impact of admission charges, ‘Taking Charge’, showed that free admission is not enough to attract more diverse visitors by itself. We know that lots of museums, whether free-entry or charging for admission, are very committed to diversifying their visitors, but it often seems hard to achieve. This project will look at why that is and how some museums have overcome those challenges.”
Julie Aldridge Associates with Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis were appointed from a very strong field, after an open call for proposals. Julie Aldridge commented, “We’re delighted to be appointed to work on this significant and timely programme. We’ve come together as a trio of consultants to combine experience – across visitor development, diversity and inclusion, research, and producing resources and development programmes – to support and enable museums to achieve their ambitions.”
“We were particularly interested in taking part due to the co-creation emphasis that the steering group suggested for this work. We believe this approach is vital to creating something that works well for a broad mix of museums and helps overcome both internal and external barriers. We will shortly be announcing opportunities to get involved in the project and will be looking for people interested in exploring it with us, to share knowledge, inspire ideas, and to try out, test, and help shape the development of a practical toolkit designed to support people to make a significant impact in diversifying museum visitors.”
The results of the research are expected to be launched in the Autumn.