The policy column

Alistair Brown, Issue 118/11, 01.11.2018
We want your feedback about Collections 2030
If you work in a museum, you may have noticed that there’s an elephant in the room. In natural history museums, it might be literally staring you in the face, but you’ll find this figurative pachyderm all over the place.

I’m talking about collections. Though at the very heart of our museums, they can find themselves at the bottom of to-do lists as we strive to deliver more pressing projects. Collections – how we manage them and the knowledge that we hold about them – can take a back seat.

This summer, I’ve been talking to museum staff across the UK about the future of collections, as part of the Museum Association’s (MA) Collections 2030 project, and it’s clear that there is huge appetite to put collections at the heart of a progressive museum agenda.

The Collections 2030 discussion paper summarises thinking on bringing collections to life. Museum workers are experimenting with new ways to use collections to inspire and empower audiences. They are considering how to work with communities to bring in expertise from outside the museum, and looking at how to manage collections in a more dynamic way – ensuring that acquisition and disposal are part of the same strategic process.

Museums now need support for this agenda from funders and policy-makers. And with organisations such as Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Welsh Museums Federation and Scottish government currently setting long-term goals and strategies, there’s no better time to advocate for the future of collections. So check the MA website and send us your thoughts on the Collections 2030 consultation.

Alistair Brown is the policy officer at the Museums Association