People mean prizes

Sharon Heal, 05.09.2018
Why the MA is launching the Museums Change Lives Awards
“Come and work in museums and your fortune will be guaranteed,” said no one ever.

Most of us that work in the museum sector do so because we are passionate about objects and collections, the stories they can tell and the difference our museums can make - not for the salary or job security.

But it is nice to get the occasional reward and recognition for the work that we do.

Awards and prizes are much sought after and they are a nice way of acknowledging the extraordinary effort that we put into making our institutions beacons for our communities.

With prizes it’s often the exterior gloss that catches the judge’s eye - the shiny new building or the blockbuster exhibition. The day-to-day work of creating partnerships, making connections and having an impact is seldom rewarded.

Which is why the Museums Association is launching the Museums Change Lives Awards.

The awards will recognise and celebrate the life changing impact of museums. The ceremony at our annual conference in Belfast will hopefully give kudos and profile to the people and places that are really making a difference.

Applying is a really simple process – there are just four categories and organisations and individuals can self-nominate. The judges will be looking for high quality innovative work that reflects one or more of the themes of Museums Change Lives and in particular for projects that work in partnership with other organisations, have a clear link to the museum’s collection and support community cohesion and work in collaboration with local groups.

Travelling around the UK, I get to see all sorts of museums and collections and meet the people who make stuff happen – from staff to volunteers to trustees and consultants.

Often this work goes under the radar – we do it because the end result is worth it. But I hope this new prize can help highlight best practice and get us all thinking about the positive impact we can have.

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