The policy column

Sharon Heal, Issue 119/01, 01.01.2019
Power sharing
Cultural democracy, co-curation, participatory practice… it often feels as if we spend more time in museums finding new words and phrases for how we would like to work with communities than we spend actually doing it.

But Museums Association research has found there is lots of this work taking place, and an appetite for creating deeper relationships with communities. 

So we’ve worked with funders, stakeholders, sector bodies and museum workers to create Power to the People, a self-assessment framework to support museums as they develop relationships with their communities.  

The work flows from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Our Museum programme, which piloted communities and museums being active partners.

It’s encouraging that major funders – particular thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for their financial support and encouragement – have backed us and we hope this will inspire museum staff to use it.  

We hope the framework will help people reflect and learn, supporting a journey towards more sustainable community engagement and participation.

Reflection isn’t a common part of museum practice but it’s useful for evaluating change. The framework provides tips on reflective practice: questioning your actions, being self-critical and learning from what went well and what didn’t.  

Sharon Heal is the director of the Museums Association