Curatorial and collections

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MA Member
04.02.2016, 14:23
I'm looking for advice. The collection I work with is currently at the heart of a restructure programme, and there has been discussion about hiving off the curatorial team, and situating them in marketing & commercial department of the organisation. While I understand that we need to bring in much needed funds, I feel uneasy about curatorial staff being managed within a commercial setting. I'm not sure if it is workable. Should I broaden my outlook, or am I right to feel uneasy.
Alistair Brown
MA Member
Policy Officer, Museums Association
08.02.2016, 13:17
This is becoming a relatively common concern, as restructures and breaking down of silo-working become more common, so you are certainly not alone.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being situated within a marketing and commercial department. We have seen some very positive examples in the past of curatorial teams working more closely with commercial departments, and it may well open up new opportunities for the museum to generate income and explore new markets.

However, it is also right to be concerned. There is an important ethical dimension that needs to be taken into account in the restructure. This is an opportunity to reaffirm the whole organisation's commitment to work in accordance with the MA Code of Ethics. In particular, you should refer to the new code ( to ensure that the museum does not treat the collection as a commercial or financial asset, and that it treats the collection as an opportunity for public engagement and public benefit. You may want to raise concerns about this with managers, especially if they do not have a museum background.

Finally, if you have further concerns about the restructure, you should speak with a union representative, or join the appropriate recognised union if not already a member.