AIM Survey 2016: Please Tell Us What You Think

We are thinking about how AIM can better help heritage organisations prosper in the next few years and we’d really like to know what you think. We’ve put together a survey to help you share your views with us and we’d be grateful if you would take five or ten minutes to complete it.

You are welcome to complete the survey even if you are not an AIM member.

Survey link: AIM Membership Survey 2016

Last time we asked you to complete a survey like this (in 2014) we were thrilled at the response and it made a big difference to what we do. The results were used by AIM Council to help develop our planning for 2015-18 and helped us create the Hallmarks of Prospering Museums.

It also helped us to secure the £900,000 investment from Arts Council England and funds from the Welsh Government, which are being used now through our Hallmarks programmes of leadership development, grants and governance support. Most of all – it helps us understand your challenges and how we can do more to help you. 


The survey is primarily designed for people working in or supporting heritage organisations, so some of the questions may not be relevant if you are a supplier or consultant member (and thank you again to those of our suppliers and consultants who completed our survey for you last year.)

Please consider sharing this link with colleagues in the museum and heritage sector.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to let us know what you think. We will share the results with you in the February Bulletin and on the AIM blog.

If you have thoughts that don’t fit in the survey, please email me as well at 

Tamalie Newbery

Executive Director (AIM)


Round 2 Of The AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers Programme Is Now Open

The second round of the AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers Programme is now open for applications. AIM’s development programmes support people who work in or with museums, with the aim of helping heritage organisations prosper.

The AIM Hallmarks Museum Leaders Programme provides practical tools, useful insights and a supportive peer network to equip museum directors to realise the full potential of their organisations.  Guest speakers from across the wider third sector will enable you to learn from successful charities, particularly focusing on organisational resilience and leadership. The programme will give you:

*Increased confidence, knowledge and skills

*The tools to increase the resilience and long term prosperity of your museum, strengthening its organisational culture and embedding the AIM Hallmarks

*A mutually supportive peer network

*A positive approach to problem solving

*Opportunities for reflection and review

“The AIM Museum Leaders course provides an invaluable opportunity to better understand and develop your own leadership skills, and offers a constructive and supportive environment to constructively review your Museum and gain new insight into how to implement change,” said Eleanor Pulfer-Sharma, Director, Bentley Priory Museum and a participant in Leaders Round 1.

“The programme is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, to promote your development as a leader in the museum sector and to equip you and your organisation to be resilient in the face of the many challenges that lie ahead, particularly given the political and financial uncertainty of the next few years,” said Jason Semmens, Director, Army Medical Services Museum and a participant in Leaders Round 1.

There are 12 places for museum leaders in England, and 2 places for museum leaders from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Visit the AIM website for application information: The AIM Hallmarks Museum Leaders Programme

Applications close: 5pm on Monday 9 January 2017

Download: aim-hallmarks-leaders-enablers-programme-brochure-2017

Startup Stock Photos

The AIM Hallmarks Enablers Programme is for people who support museums through their work, for example through Museum Development or as independent consultants. It aims to equip participants to support organisations more effectively. Participants will become part of a skilled group of enablers who can support museums to use the AIM Hallmarks, helping them prosper.

The programme gives you the chance to develop consultancy and coaching techniques and use them effectively to help organisations change. It will develop your understanding of how organisations work and of the challenges of leadership, with insight from senior managers and trustees.

Through the programme, you will have chance to build a dynamic portfolio of tools to use in your work with museums and become part of a peer network and share ideas and insights.

The programme will give you:

*High quality facilitation techniques to use with museums

*The opportunity to develop independent thinking and new approaches to complex issues

*A mutually supportive peer network

*A positive approach to problem solving

*Opportunities for reflection and review

“Engaging with the Enablers programme has allowed me to evaluate and strengthen my relationships with museums. It is helping me to develop more effective mentoring, advocacy and facilitation skills which are transferable across all areas of Museum Development delivery,” said Sarah Spurrier, Museum Development East Midlands and an Enablers Participant in Round 1.

“Taking part in the Enablers programme has helped me develop my skillset and learn from and share ideas with the excellent Hilary and Ruth as well as an inspirational group of consultants and Museum Development Officers. Knowledge I have developed on the programme has enabled me to better support museum staff and trustees to embed change at their organisations and make their organisations more resilient,” said Laura Crossley, independent consultant and an Enablers Participant in Round 1.

There are 12 supported places for people working in England. If you work in a museum development role in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, please contact us to discuss the possibility of a self-funded place. Consultants and freelancers are encouraged to apply.

Visit the AIM website for application information: The AIM Hallmarks Enablers Programme

Applications close: 5pm on Monday 9 January 2017

Download: aim-hallmarks-leaders-enablers-programme-brochure-2017


AIM Members Are Fizzing With Innovation

To discover what inspiring projects AIM members are running at their own organisations, we introduced a new strand at AIM conference this year called ‘Three Minute Museum Fizzers’. Museums and those working in the UK heritage sector were invited to take part and tell the conference audience all about an entrepreneurial project or idea that has impacted positively on their organisation, local community or other stakeholders – all in just three minutes.

Independent museums are well known for creating enterprising projects that encourage social cohesion, income generation or more effective ways of working and the Museum Fizzers strand was developed to celebrate and promote these projects. The six entries each showcased innovative ideas that reflected the resourceful, ‘can do’ attitude of the independent sector.

First to take her place under the spotlight was George Oates, Director of Museum in a Box The project allows you to create a box of replica objects from museums around the world and have it sent to your school or your office or to home. George said:

“Museum in a Box puts museum collections and expert knowledge into your hands, wherever you are in the world. Our working design question is “How can we update the classic museum loan box for the internet age, and how might that improve understanding and engagement with museums?” We’re prototyping towards an answer that’s a genuine, tactile mix of replica objects and contextual content direct from museum curators and educators.”


Photo: courtesy of Museum in a Box

Then Hayley McCafferty-David, Project Manager, West Midlands Museum Partnership, Black Country Living Museum, explained about a new CRM system that has made a big difference at the museum.

“Following an extensive procurement process Black Country Living Museum launched an integrated CRM system in January 2016. This system, which brings together all of the key areas for running a paid museum in one place, also allows bespoke communications with stakeholders at all levels. Tessitura are a well-established North American organisation with clients in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden to name a few. In the UK they are the CRM supplier to some of our most famous cultural establishments including the Royal Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall. BCLM is proud to be the first UK museum to have Tessitura as its CRM system.”

AIM Fizzers Black Country Living Museum picture

Photo: courtesy of Black Country Living Museum  

We then heard from Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, about an emotive project being run on the Isle of Lewis. Annie told us:

“Comunn Eachdraidh Nis based in the north of the Isle of Lewis has undertaken several projects to commemorate WW1. 900 local men were involved in the war with 214 losing their lives. The projects include: A poppy trail where large poppies were mounted at the homes of those lost, an exhibition with artefacts pertaining to the WW1, a major publication Dol Fodha na Grèine (The Going Down of the Sun) , which was shortlisted for a Saltire award as well as a number of other booklets, a mural, a painting commission and forthcoming trip this September to the battlefields of France and Belgium for 40 members of the local community.”      


Photo: Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society

Dr Sophie Forgan from The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, then stepped forward to present an uplifting and fun project that is now touring other museums. Sophie said:

“Stubbs’ iconic portrait of a kangaroo came to us on tour from the National Maritime, so how to highlight the presence of this extraordinary painting?  Why, a willow sculpture to stand in the entrance courtyard! Get to grips with the subject!  Something special was inside! Glasgow’s Hunterian grabbed him for the next stage of the tour.  Now in Middlesbrough, where will he hop next? Touched, photographed, hugged, Facebooked, talked about, acted around – ‘Stubbsy’ provided a wonderful counterpoint to Stubbs. What else has he inspired?  I will tell you…”

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Photo: courtesy of The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, then took to the stage to charm us all with an enchanted project…

“Enchanted Palace was a radical and innovative visitor experience at Kensington Palace which took place between 2010 and 2012. The concept was that the capital project building works were shaking the stories out of the building; visitors were on a quest to discover the seven princesses who had once lived there. We worked with theatre company Wildworks to create an enchanted world in the State Apartments. The purpose was to retain visitors and income, and raise awareness of the transformed palace opening in 2012. Enchanted Palace was the most challenging visitor experience Historic Royal Palaces has ever done. Although it ended in early 2012, its legacy is still influencing our work today.”


Photo: Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace

Fran Burke-Lloyd, Chair of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum, then presented the final fizzer entry which showcased an innovative way of engaging young people at the museum:

“We needed to keep the interest of the younger visitors to our museum without turning to games. What we have achieved is a story line using the history of the young children who worked in the tin plate museum. We gave a brief history of what the children once they had turned 11, had to do once at work, we shared out name tags representing family members from the past and walked through the museum having the group act out their parts in the family. One child would have the name Dai who represents the young boy who is about to start work in the tin plate works on his 11th birthday they then get to see what was expected from him. The children asked more questions and got really into the story line so much so that on more than one occasion I was asked what time they should come back to work.”


Photo: courtesy of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum

After hearing all entries, the conference audience voted and new AIM Chairman, Richard Evans, declared the winner to be Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, who was presented with a bottle of champagne. Thank you to all entrants this year and we look forward to hearing more innovative fizzer entries during conference in 2017 at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

AIM grants – help us to understand your funding needs

If you are an AIM member, you are probably aware of the different grant schemes that AIM provides. Feedback from members via email, face to face and on the phone indicates that AIM’s grant schemes are extremely popular and each year, hundreds of AIM members benefit from financial support for conservation, training, travel and sustainability.

AIM is currently researching new grant streams, looking at ways to improve our grant application processes and ensuring that any future schemes are relevant for our members needs. This is an exciting time for AIM and our members and we would value your input into how we can make our grant schemes even better in the future.

Looking at SG

Each year, hundreds of AIM members benefit from financial support for conservation, training, travel and sustainability

In order to secure new funding for future grant schemes, we are asking AIM members from across the UK to complete our grant schemes survey. The more people who respond, the more clearly we can demonstrate to grant givers that museums need their funding, so please consider taking part in this survey to help AIM and the independent museum sector.

The survey takes less than ten minutes to complete and your responses will help us to understand our member’s needs, how we can offer better financial support and how our grants help you. The deadline for completed surveys is midday on 26 November and you can take part by clicking here:

Thank you for your support!

Trustee Vacancy: Chiddingstone Castle

Chiddingstone Castle is a historic house in Edenbridge Kent which is open to the public and a fully accredited museum containing the outstanding collections of the late antiquarian Denys Eyre Bower.

The internationally-recognised collections were left in trust to the Nation after Bower’s death in 1977 and comprise an eclectic mix of Ancient Egyptian antiquities; Japanese lacquer and Samurai armour; Buddhist objects; Stuart paintings and Jacobite artefacts and manuscripts.

The trust receives no public funding, but has recently seen an increase in visitor numbers and revenue thanks to an excellent small body of enthusiastic staff and improved marketing.


The board of Trustees (currently comprising seven members) is seeking an additional member with small or medium-sized museum and/or curatorial experience.

The board meets 6 times per annum – mostly at the Castle, occasionally in London. All trustee positions are voluntary but we do reimburse travel costs.

Contact details for applicants to find out more:

Ms A Ditzel, Director, Tel: 01892 870347

Mr M Streatfeild, Chairman of Trustees, Tel: 01892 870851

Closing date: Ongoing

AIM National Conference 2015

AIM National Conference  18 – 20 June 2015

‘The Hallmarks of Prospering Museums’

This year, the AIM National Conference will be held at the award-winning Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol, with an exciting new conference format that develops the new AIM Hallmarks through three themes: Leadership, Purpose and Governance; Innovation in Visitor Experience and Entrepreneurialism and Income Generation.

The conference will feature 30 guest speakers, 12 breakout sessions, new surgery sessions and keynote speeches from some of the UK’s leading cultural experts including the Chairs, Directors or CEOs of: ss Great Britain, London Transport Museum, ALVA, HLF, Battersea Arts Centre, Development Partners, Imperial War Museum, Derby Silk Museum, Creative United, Tiverton Museum, Museum of Dartmoor Life, Gordon Highlanders Museum, Royal West of England Academy, Bexley Heritage Trust, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Association of Cultural Enterprises, Luton Museums and National Football Museum.

Front Page

NEW for this year will also be a ‘Question Time Debate’ with a guest panel, Chaired by Matthew Tanner.

The Panel:

Richard Evans (Director, Beamish, The Living Museum of the North)

Diane Lees (Director-General, Imperial War Museum)

Judy Niner (Director of Development Partners and Chair of Cogges Manor Farm)

John Orna-Ornstein (Director of Museums, Arts Council England)

Evening social events, industry exhibitors and a Saturday Study Tour that will visit three of Bristol’s most historic locations means that the AIM National Conference 2015 is ideal for anyone connected to the UK’s heritage sector.

With more speakers and relevant topics than ever before, plus plenty of networking and idea sharing opportunities, by attending AIM conference you will discover a range of practical approaches to help your museum or heritage organisation prosper.

Image courtesy of ss Great Britain

Image courtesy of ss Great Britain

Our special Early Bird booking rate starts at just £45 per day for AIM members and runs until April 17th.

Download the AIM National Conference Brochure: conference 2015 booklet WEB

For how to book, prices and a conference schedule, please visit the AIM website and view ‘EVENTS’ tab at:


Follow all conference updates on Twitter @AIMuseums #2015AIM

AIM would like to thank Brunel’s ss Great Britain and our conference sponsors Development Partners


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Lessons for museums – Alice Maynard on Bringing Scope back from the brink

In an interview brimming with relevance for independent museums (and heritage or arts organisations) Alice Maynard, recently retired as Chair of Scope, talks about how the charity has been turned around from the brink of disaster.

She addresses several areas that will help museums, especially if they need to make some significant changes in their strategy or operations: the need for a vision and then to stick to it, the role of Chair and Board in times of difficulty, building relationships between senior staff and the Board, the challenges and opportunities of their retail arm and how it fits into their overall organisational strategy and purpose and why thinking like a business made them better at achieving their charitable purposes.

In our opinion, definitely worth getting a cup of coffee and having a read. Enjoy! Alice Maynard: Bringing Scope back from the brink.

A big thank you to The Association of Chairs whose great, free e-newsletter (sign up on their website), brought this extremely useful Civil Society interview to our attention.

AIM is recruiting a Membership, Marketing and Projects Manager

We are very pleased to announce that we are recruiting a new post of Membership, Marketing and Projects Manager, to start as soon as possible.

Membership, Marketing and Projects Manager

£28,000 to £30,000, Full-time, Working From Home

UPDATE 8TH OCTOBER 2014:  We have added the answers to some frequently asked questions at the end of this post.

This is a rare opportunity to join a small, friendly team, in an interesting and varied role, making a practical difference to large and small independent museums and heritage organisations across the UK.

AIM’s membership is at an all-time high. You will be responsible for developing our communications with and services for members, including supplier members, and recruiting new members. You will be AIM’s marketing manager, responsible for all our online communications and the redevelopment of our website. You will also be responsible for developing and delivering some of AIM’s partnerships and projects.

Your strengths will be in building relationships, communicating, engaging people and delivering on commitments.

This is a new position. It will be initially a short-term contract to 31 March 2015 with a likely extension to March 2018. The post is part funded by Arts Council England.

To see the job description and person specification click here:

Job Description and Person Spec MM&P AIM

For more background information about AIM, the role and how to apply click here: 

Introduction to AIM

To apply: Please email a two page letter explaining why you would like the job and how you meet the requirements in the person specification, along with a copy of your CV, to Your application should arrive by 1pm on Monday 13th October 2014.

Interviews will be in Woking, Surrey on Thursday 30th October 2014.

For more information about AIM please visit

If you’d like to discuss the role please email Tamalie Newbery, AIM’s Executive Director, at to arrange a mutually convenient time.

UPDATE 8.10.14: The answers to the following questions may be useful to you if you are thinking of applying:

Does the job description relate to just the period to March 2015?  No. The job description presumes the post will continue until March 2018 and describes the work to be done over the next three and a half years.

What is the current level of membership?  We currently have 1050 members and growing, so we may need to revise up the target to increase membership to 1100 by 2018!

How much travel is required?  It will fluctuate and it is hard to know exactly being a new post but it will probably work out at around one or two days of meetings away from home each week. Some weeks more may be required. For our conference in June you will be required for three days, staying away from home. Stays away from home may also be needed at other times, depending where you live.

Three independents join MPM museums

Arts Council England has announced five new Major Partner Museums (MPMs) for 2015-18, three of whom are independent museums.

Independent museums Black Country Living Museums (with Culture Coventry Museums ), Derby Museums Trust (with Nottingham Museums) and Museums Sheffield have been awarded MPM funding. The other new MPMs are Hull City Council and Penlee House Museum and Gallery, the latter as part of a consortium of six museums including independents Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, National Maritime Museum Cornwall and Wheal Martyn.

John Orna-Ornstein, Arts Councils Director of Museums, told AIM,

I’m really pleased that we’re able to widen the portfolio to 21 museum services and partnerships. We received an extremely strong set of applications – significantly stronger than in the last funding round – and additional funding means we can have a much wider geographic spread of MPMs this time around. Unfortunately, the high demand and level of competition means that a number of very good applications weren’t successful. The new portfolio includes some exceptional independent museums including Beamish, Ironbridge and a new partnership led by the Black Country Living Museum.

These new MPMs join several existing independent MPMs including: Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Beamish, York Museums Trust, Birmingham Museums Trust and Tuille House. All the existing MPMs will continue to receive MPM funding in 2015-18 though at reduced levels.

Tony Butler, Director of new MPM, Derby Museums Trust and AIM Council member said,

We are really pleased that the East Midlands now has a major partner museum. Derby’s partnership with Nottingham brings together two city museum organisations, one independent, one local authority but both committed to extending participation and being more entrepreneurial. From Derby’s perspective we are pleased that ACE recognised our innovation in co-producing our museums with the public and commitment to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths).

ACE states:

Funding to Major partner museums will increase to £22.6 million per year in 2015/16, This includes an additional £1.1 million, which has been added to the overall museums budget to encourage a greater geographical spread.

The increased investment offers greater opportunities throughout the country, not just in terms of geographic spread, including both rural and urban museums; it also allows our Major partner museums to provide a wider leadership role.

In the Midlands two new Major partner museums have been introduced. They are a partnership between Derby and Nottingham Museums, and a coalition including Black Country Living Museum and Coventry. These will bring strong and creative programming across the Midlands – as well as innovative leadership.

The For Cornwall Museums Partnership is a fine example of consortium working, with six leading museums in Cornwall coming together for the first time as a Major partner museum and collaborating with many museums across the county. This partnership demonstrates that excellence can thrive in museums in rural areas.

Elsewhere, Museums Sheffield shows an innovative approach to display and programming as well as a robust business model and is another of our new Major partner museums. Hull Museums also joins to help build the city’s capacity in anticipation of its year as City of Culture in 2017.

Black Country Living Museum was awarded £886k, Derby Museums £854k, Hull City Council £841k, Sheffield Museums £600k and Penlee £500k. Five applicants were unsuccessful.

ACE has also commented on its other funding for museums from 2015-18:

An open application programme will provide project funding with a focus on building resilience in the sector. Priorities include encouraging new income streams and helping museums connect with their communities. A national network of museum development will continue with, and improve on, our current work, with a high quality, consistent offer across the country.

We will use strategic funds to support national projects and programmes that focus on specific areas of opportunity, including international exchange and export, digital work and partnerships with higher education establishments and National museums.

More information about strategic funding for museums, including the £10m Open Fund, here.

ACE supports independence and passion

John Orna Ornstein, Director of Museums, Arts Council England, has written a great comment piece for the Museums Journal on why the individuality and diversity of our museums from large to very tiny, should be celebrated and supported and on the independent spirit that all museums need to cultivate. We couldn’t agree more! Read it now …

ACE supports independence and passion | Museums Association.