Consultants Appointed for Diversifying Museum Visitors Project

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.

Black Country Living Museum

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.


Project logos

AIM Hallmarks Awards: Final Round Now Open For Applications

The third and final round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017. Offering grants of between £5,000 and £15,000, the AIM Hallmarks Awards help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. For example, in Round 1 of the AIM Hallmarks Awards, The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials, which you can read about HERE. Organisational review projects funded include one for Amgeudffa Pontypool Museum.

LB large

The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials (Photo credit: The Lightbox)

Work funded by an AIM Hallmarks Award must be demonstrably central to an applicant museum’s organisational development and closely linked to the museum’s strategic plan. Where possible, we are keen for projects to innovate, trialling approaches or ways of working which are either wholly new to the museum sector, or new to museums of a particular kind or size. In Round 2, for example, the Royal West of England Academy received funding to trial offering executive training away days to corporate clients as a means of income generation.

Helen Wilkinson, AIM Assistant Director, said: “We’re really open to a wide range of proposals – either for doing some serious thinking about the future of your museum, or testing out an idea you already have. We’re looking for fresh thinking and energy above all else – could you use a Hallmark Award to lay the foundations for a new way of working?”

Who Has Already Benefitted From An AIM Hallmarks Award?

In the second round of awards, five were made to museums and heritage sites in England, and three to museums in Wales.

Successful applicants in England were:

Radstock Museum in Somerset, awarded £12,000 for a project to remodel the main permanent displays in the gallery to reflect its name change to Somerset Coalfield Life at Radstock Museum. In doing so, the museum hopes to attract a wider and more diverse audience and enhance their learning offer to engage schools.

Seven Stories and the Mary Rose Trust both awarded funding for in house programmes of leadership development for staff (£8720 for Mary Rose Trust and £11,660 for Seven Stories).

Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review.

Brantwood Trust, awarded £7,842.00 for a project to share Ruskin’s ideas with a wider audience through collections digitisation and videos for its website.

Royal West of England Academy, awarded £9,060.00 for a project to develop packages of executive development training, using the museum’s collections, as a means of income generation.


Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review

And in Wales:

Cardiff Story Museum awarded £8000 for a marketing review, to enable it to improve its financial resilience.

Rhayader Museum and Gallery, awarded £10,590 for a project to document local town and country shows, using volunteers in innovative ways.

Pontypool Museum, awarded £5000 towards the costs of an organisational review.

How To Apply

AIM Hallmarks Awards in England

AIM Hallmarks Awards in Wales

The third round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017.

If you are considering making an application to the final round of the Hallmarks Awards, guidance notes to support your application are available here AIM Hallmarks Awards

Or you can email Helen Wilkinson on






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


The Impact of Charging Museum Admission: New AIM Research Survey

AIM has just launched a sector wide survey which is the first part of vital research into the impact of charging for admissions on museums and heritage sites. Organisations across the UK are invited to take part now, to ensure that this ground-breaking research reflects the whole sector. The findings, case studies and resulting guidance will be announced at AIM’s national conference in June and published in the summer.

The research programme, led by DC Research and commissioned in partnership with Arts Council England (ACE) and the Museums Archives and Libraries Division (MALD), involves assessing the role of charging – or not charging – for visitor admissions, and comes at an extremely opportune time for many museums that are currently considering their future charging policy in light of reductions in other forms of funding.

All UK museums, heritage sites and galleries that charge – or don’t charge – admissions are encouraged to complete the survey which closes on 14 April 2016. The survey is available in English and Welsh. Please contribute to this survey and also consider sharing this information with other organisations, as the results will help to generate responses from across the whole heritage sector.

AIM Admissions Research Study

How does charging – or not charging – admissions impact on your museum?

“Whether to charge for admission to a museum, and if so, what pricing strategy to use, is a key decision which needs careful consideration. Some people have strong views on the subject but those wanting to make an evidence-based decision about what is right for their museum have very little information to draw on at the moment,” said Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM.

“AIM has commissioned this research to help each museum find the right policy for its circumstances. The findings of this research will be used to develop useful, free guidance for UK museums both to support their decision-making process and to assess how a change might affect them in the future.”

As part of the research programme, DC Research will also investigate:

*The range of pricing policies used by museums

*The relationship between admission charging policy and the number or diversity of visitors

*The impact of admissions charging on visitor spend

*The impact on community relations or museum reputation

*The impact of moves from charging to free admission or from free to charging

*The impact of significant changes in pricing strategy such as moving to an annual pass or introducing free entry for children

The research will also include a review of existing research and data, stakeholder interviews and detailed case studies from a number of museums that have made significant changes to their pricing policy. Any museums which would like to be considered as a case study should contact Stephen Connolly at DC Research

admissions logos 1



New AIM Success Guide: ‘Successful Basic Interventive Conservation’

To help museums, galleries and heritage sites to maintain their collections more effectively in 2016; the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) has just published a new Success Guide called ‘Successful Basic Interventive Conservation’. This is the companion guide to Successful Collection Care and both have been published in English and Welsh thanks to funding from Welsh Government (Museums, Archives and Libraries Division).

The guide has been created to help museum staff and volunteers understand basic interventive conservation techniques, to carry out assessments on objects and to know when to seek additional advice from a professional conservator.  This Success Guide provides an overview of interventive conservation and helps to determine how best to stabilise, clean and safeguard objects without removing evidence of their past life to ensure their survival and to aid the interpretation process.

SG image

Authored by Ciarán Lavelle and Lizzie Miller, Object Conservators at Birmingham Museums Trust, this Success Guide provides practical advice, useful resources and further reading for those who want to learn more about interventive conservation. All AIM Success Guides can be downloaded for free from the AIM website and all titles in the AIM Success Guide series have been produced to provide practical help to all size museums.

Speaking about the launch of this latest Success Guide, AIM’s Executive Director, Tamalie Newbery said: “This latest Success Guide from AIM has been created with the support of two professional conservators and contains easy to understand and practical information to support anyone that works closely with objects in their museum, gallery or heritage site. The guide will help people to carry out initial assessments on an object’s condition, to understand health and safety precautions and to know when to ask for help from a professional conservator.”

‘Successful Basic Interventive Conservation’ is now available to download from the AIM website in English and Welsh.