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

Consultant/s Sought For Groundbreaking Diversifying Museum Visitors Project

Increasing the diversity of their visitors is one of the aims of many museums. It directly relates to the core purpose of museums, as well as offering the opportunity to support museums’ sustainability. Whilst there have been previous studies in the museum and related sectors, progress towards this goal has been limited for the majority of museums.

We are seeking a consultant or consultants to undertake a UK-wide project, the purpose of which is to help museums to increase the diversity of their core visitors. The key focus of the project is on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change in their organisations to achieve this.


We expect the project to include a review of existing literature, examination of case studies and production of guidance, toolkits, frameworks or other types of support, which should be co-produced with a range of different types of museums. Consultants are also asked to make recommendations about actions that sector support organisations should take and about rolling out the outcomes of this project, as well as long-term evaluation.

The project is led by the Association of Independent Museums, in partnership with Arts Council England, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Northern Ireland and Welsh Government. There is a budget of up to £25,000. The work is to be completed by Autumn 2017.

Consultants or consortia interested in applying should download the Invitation to Tender below:

Invitation to Tender Diversifying Museum Visitors

Proposals should be submitted to by 5pm on 16 Feb 2017


New Museums Workforce Research Report Highlights Sector Skills Gaps

What attitudes, behaviours and skills are needed to ensure a thriving workforce in the museum and heritage sector over the next decade? A research report published earlier this week has found that professional and personal development should be a priority for the sector and that better resources are needed to enable this to happen. A summary of this report can be found here: Character Matters attitudes, behaviours and skills in the UK Museum workforce.

The Museums Workforce Research was commissioned by Arts Council England, together with the Association of Independent Museums, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Museums Association. The research included evidence based on 2000 online survey responses, interviews and consultations carried out by BOP Consulting with the Museum Consultancy and has highlighted 30 recommendations that focus on recruitment, skills and CPD, organisational and sector development.

AIM has welcomed this research, in particular the need for better business skills to support income generation. AIM members already excel at increasing their own income in a way that complements rather than conflicts with their core purpose and  AIM Success Guides such as Successful Retailing for Smaller Museums and Successful Business Planning can help strengthen skills in this area. The research also highlighted the need for development opportunities for boards and trustees. AIM has recognised the need for support for trustees’ development for some time, and we are able to offer opportunities in this area through the AIM Hallmarks Governance Programme.


 Image: courtesy of Brooklands Museum

Other research recommendations that particularly reflect needs in the independent museum sector include:

Recruitment campaigns which aim to give a fuller picture of what it is like to work in museums

*Museums and sector bodies should develop recruitment campaigns that promote the sector as a place to work. This could involve developing messages that give insight into what it is like to work in museums, and the broad range of skills and “personal qualities” needed. (Recommendation 4)

More funding opportunities for skills development, especially digital and business skills

*Sector bodies should create funding opportunities to support skills and knowledge development throughout the sector. Key areas for development include: • developing and applying digital skills • developing further business, management and leadership skills (Recommendation 12)

Encouraging workforce diversity in its broadest sense

*Sector bodies and employers should ensure that initiatives and approaches to diversify the workforce encompass the broadest definition of diversity, and are tailored to reflect regional and local needs (Recommendation 28)

Tamalie Newbery, AIM Executive Director said: “This research offers really useful signposts for future development of the museum workforce. We know that organisations can only be changed through the people who work in them – developing existing staff, trustees and volunteers and bringing in new talent. We are looking forward to working with all our partners in taking the recommendations forward.”

Download the summary report:

Character Matters attitudes, behaviours and skills in the UK Museum workforce.

Download the full report:

Full Report:  Character Matters attitudes, behaviours and skills in the UK Museum workforce.








Museums Galleries Scotland 2015 conference: AIM grants available

On Thursday 22 October 2015, Museums Galleries Scotland will be hosting their conference in Edinburgh.

The theme of conference is ‘Fighting Fit: Ready for Anything’ and it will focus on developing the long-term resilience of the museums sector in challenging funding and political environments.

AIM will be attending to talk about the ‘AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums’ and there are travel bursaries available for AIM members that would like to attend.


Travel bursaries available for any AIM member that would like to attend MGS conference

The next round of AIM training grants closes on 9th September 2015 and grants are available for training events between October – December 2015.

We can grant aid fees, accommodation (only where distance travel is involved) and travel costs towards:

Courses, seminars and workshops

Museum conferences

Museum study visits

Mentoring placements

You can find out more details on our training grants HERE

For more details on the Museums Galleries Scotland conference, please visit their website HERE

Download an overview of the Museums Galleries Scotland conference here MGS Conference Overview

Scotland: National Skills Development Programme

Museums Galleries Scotland runs the  National Skills Development Programme which is a ‘one stop shop’ for a broad range of skills development activities. This includes activities supported and delivered both by MGS and partner organisations with a national remit.

Upcoming courses include topics such as Accreditation, Collections Development, Digital, Partnership Working and Copyright and Digitisation.


All courses are subsidised and start from only £20 for a volunteer attending a half day ‘Hints and Tips workshop’

Travel bursaries may be available to help cover all or part of the cost of getting to a training course. For further information please contact the MGS Skills Development Manager: or Telephone: 0131 550 4131


A full list of courses can be found HERE

Scottish Festival of Museums gets ready for 2015

Scotland’s 2015 Festival of Museums fund open for applications

Workshops available

Dates for the 2015 Festival of Museums are 15-17 May 2015. Following on from their success last year, Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) are running a series of workshops in October and November 2014, which will include information on submitting a Festival of Museums funding application.

The closing date for applications to the fund is 5 pm on Friday 21 November. Any Accredited museum in Scotland can apply for between £300 and £1500 to support them to deliver ambitious events that will be part of the Festival of Museums 2015 programme.

MGS can also support staff training costs where the training is helping to build skills in the areas relevant to event planning, marketing, PR and sponsorship.

For further information and to download an application form, please visit the MGS website.

If you are interested in attending a workshop, they will be taking place in the following locations. Please click on the links to book a place.
Perth, 15 October 2014 – Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Inverness, 22 October 2014 – Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Edinburgh, TBC November 2014 – MGS Offices, Waverley Gate
Glasgow, TBC November 2014 – GoMA

Further information can also be found on the MGS website.

If you have any questions do contact MGS at

Applications Open for Enterprising Museum Award Scotland

Arts & Business Scotland Awards 2014 – Enterprising Museum Award – applications now being taken.

Applications can now be made for the Enterprising Museum category sponsored by Museums Galleries Scotland. The award will be made to an innovative or entrepreneurial project that has delivered an ambitious high-impact museum related experience.

Projects must have taken place throughout 2013 or 2014 and must be complete or near completion by the application deadline Monday 4 August 2014.

The award will be judged by a panel of representatives from Museums Galleries Scotland and Arts & Business Scotland. In judging the winner, they will consider how innovative or entrepreneurial the project was, its impact and how well it meets the aims of Going Further – The National Strategy for Scotlands Museums and Galleries.

You must be a Scottish museum in order to apply.Please download the application form below and send your completed form to

Deadline for applications: 5pm, Monday 4 August 2014. The shortlist will be announced by the end of August 2014.

The winner will be presented with a specially commissioned Award piece in front of an audience of over 300 guests from business, the arts and the media at an Awards ceremony and party at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on Friday 24 October 2014.  Winners will also receive a one year membership of Arts & Business Scotland.

For further information about Museums Galleries Scotland please go to

For further information about Arts & Business Scotland please go to

For queries about the Awards ceremony contact

via Enterprising Museum Award sponsored by Museums Galleries Scotland.

Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage – fundraising training events

The first Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage training events are taking place in July and August.

Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is a partnership project lead by Arts & Business Scotland with Archaeology Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, greenspace Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland.

Make it Happen‘ is a one-day training course which introduces participants to fundraising for heritage organisations and projects from private sources.  The event costs just £20 and travel bursaries are available to enable you to attend.

The first four events are taking place as follows:

.Tuesday 22nd July – Old Parish Centre, Cupar, Fife
.Wednesday 23rd July – City Art Centre, Edinburgh
.Wednesday 30th July – Dower House, Kilmarnock
.Thursday 7th August – Culloden Visitor Centre, Inverness

To book your place please visit the Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage website

Future ‘Make it Happen’ courses will take place in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dumfries & Galloway in January and February 2015.

You can follow Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage on Facebook and Twitter

A strategy for sustainability: Museums Galleries Scotland

“In order to work towards sustainability [museums] need to have clarity of vision − to get the right plans in place before moving forwards. We must not be afraid to start conversations that matter.”

So states Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, in a recent article in Arts Professional, where she reflects on why the Scottish approach to building sustainability has been so successful. She also talks about how adaptability and innovation are key to museums’ success and the importance of engaging with communities as one of the things that underpins sustainability. All this needs to be supported and enabled by a strong and engaged board of Trustees.

Read more of her thoughts in the full article, A strategy for sustainability: Museums Galleries Scotland | ArtsProfessional.