The policy column
Sharon Heal, Issue 119/11, 01.11.2019
It’s never too late to learn
Over the past year, the Museums Association has been researching museum learning and engagement. We’ve asked 200-plus museum staff, funders and sector bodies about the opportunities and challenges.
Although there has been a lot of innovation, a lack of ambition and investment has undermined the work in some areas. Asking questions about the future of learning and engagement has started a wider debate about the purpose of museums and their role in society. People working in learning and engagement know it has the potential to transform museums into relevant, accountable and democratic spaces where co-production and co-creation are a right for all.
But there needs to be culture change in how we work and who we work with. The way we work needs to be long term, responsive, rooted in need and embedded in the mission, vision and values of institutions.
You said that we need better ways of describing the value of museum learning and engagement; recognition of the skills and expertise of those working in this area; museums that work in partnership with a wide range of organisations; and staff having a say in decision-making. We also need institutions and staff that are values-led, diverse, digitally savvy and open to risk-taking and experimentation.
The MA is now working on a manifesto that showcases the brilliant work done, and makes the case for museum learning and engagement.