Welcome to the NWFED blog – a place where visitors can keep up with the latest news and views from museums and galleries throughout the North West and beyond. This is an open blog where you can take part in discussions and post your comments on the issues which matter to you.

The burgeoning relationship between the Harris and UCLan

0 posted May 30th, 2017 | Leave a reply

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston has a long track record of partnership working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). During the last twenty years this has taken many forms from placements and paid internships for students to the development of joint artistic programmes between the two organisations.

In Certain Places was set up in 2003 as a joint initiative between the Harris and UCLan to explore place-making in Preston in the context of the regeneration plans for the city. ICP created numerous popular art interventions around the city, from Jeppe Hein’s interactive fountain sculpture Appearing Rooms on the Flag Market in 2006, to the Harris Flights, which created a flight of steps leading up to the Harris balcony as the setting for a programme of performances through the summer of 2013.

Harris staff have regularly been involved in the delivery of a variety of courses at the University, including Marketing, Events, History, Art, Fashion and Architecture. Key partnerships have developed with Art and Fashion lecturers, leading to exhibitions featuring both students’ and academics’ work, and with the UCLan-led Preston History Network, which brings together local historical organisations to promote events such as the Guild 2012 and Heritage Open Days.

In 2014 a piece of research was commissioned to scope existing links and the potential for future joint-working. This identified barriers such as information sharing and different working patterns through the year, and led to the development of new contacts to overcome these.

Now however Preston is in the process of major regeneration and both the Harris and UCLan are in a period of massive change. The Harris needs to reposition itself if it is to keep pace with the redevelopment going on around it in the city centre, and to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in Preston and Lancashire. The Re-Imagining the Harris programme was set up in 2015, and has developed an innovative vision which will shape its repositioning. This envisages the Harris as the cultural and community hub for Preston. A community led organisation that acts as the civic focal point for the city centre, constantly animated with creativity at the core of everything it does.

UCLan has grown at a rapid rate, it is now the 8th biggest University in the country, with more than 38,000 students with campuses across Lancashire, and in China. However it recognises Preston as its home, and has developed a masterplan which will see £200 million of investment in the city campus during the next ten years. This campus sits on the edge of the city centre and the masterplan is integral to the wider regeneration of Preston.

A vibrant Preston is key to realising UClan’s ambitions, in order to attract prospective students and entertain existing ones. The University is keen to develop stronger and more tangible links to the city centre to contribute to the animation of the city, and to create stronger links with existing communities across Preston. The Harris provides the perfect partner for the University in developing this city centre presence, and it is this that has driven recent moves to a more co- ordinated and strategic partnership between the two institutions; as well as a wider recognition that the ambitions of the Harris and UCLan are inextricably intertwined.

Therefore the relationship between the Harris and UCLan is moving to a different level. A member of UCLan’s executive team (the Pro Vice Chancellor of External Relations) will sit on the Project Board for the Re-Imagining the Harris project. The University will play a pivotal role in shaping the repositioning of the Harris. In the short to medium term the two organisations are working together to ensure that UCLan adds significant value to the day to day running of the Harris, and has a tangible presence in the building.

The best example of this is the recent development and installation of a Makerspace in the Harris. The idea emerged after discussions between senior staff in the two organisations and was driven by the desire at the Harris to put creativity and making more at the core of what the building does, alongside the expectation at UCLan (and particularly at their Media Innovation studio) that they needed to be engaging more proactively with the hardest to reach audiences in Preston.

Staff from the two organisations worked closely together with additional support for the school of architecture at the University in the early development
of the Makerspace. Since it opened in the autumn of 2016, the programme has been varied, with Harris and UCLan staff, alongside members of the local community and artists, offering a wide opportunity to make and create, from costume making to coding and from drawing to drones.

There are plenty of other examples of the Harris and UCLan working together to deliver the new vision for the Harris, and the wider ambitions of the University. The Heritage Network at UCLan has recently organised a series of sold out talks at the Harris, reinforcing the message that the building is a centre for discussion and debate. The Harris will also host the University’s graduation show and related events in early summer that will animate the building, and enable the people of Preston and Lancashire to appreciate the potential of the thousands of students the city hosts.

So in recent years the partnership between the Harris and UCLan has matured, driven by the regeneration of the city and the challenging environment the two organisations find themselves operating in. The relationship, which had originated in a mutual shared appreciation of learning, heritage and the arts, is now evolving into a robust partnership where each organisation is becoming a key contributor to the other’s wider ambitions.
Jon Finch, Re-imagining the Harris Project Leader

MEMBER EXHIBITION: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants – Kirkby Gallery

0 posted January 26th, 2017 | Leave a reply


Image courtesy, the artist

Where:  The Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby L32 8XY

When: Saturday 4 February – Saturday 22 April 2017

Knowsley Culture Development and Events are proud to announce Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants:  The Illustrated World of Nick Sharratt.

Nick Sharratt is an illustrator and an author who has illustrated close to 250 books. Ranging from board books for babies to novels for young teenagers, Sharratt  has worked with authors including Julia Donaldson, Jeremy Strong, Michael Rosen, Giles Andreae, Kaye Umansky, Kes Gray and most notably Dame Jacqueline Wilson.  Many of the publications he has worked on have gone on to win numerous accolades and in 2006 he was also the official illustrator for World Book Day.

Fun Day with Nick Sharratt in the Gallery

As part of the exhibition programme on Saturday 4 February, 10.00am – 4.00pm you  can meet Nick Sharratt and help him design a giant picture, paint a huge cardboard pirate ship and take part in arty activities and competitions.  Some of Nick’s books will be on sale in the gallery during the exhibition which you can have signed by Nick at the fun day.

To  find out more about Sharratt’s work and the exhibition and fun day, Click Here


NEWS: SMILE’s Exploring Science in the Natural World – Event Report

0 posted November 16th, 2016 | Leave a reply


On 21st September Chester Zoo hosted SMILE (Science in Museums Inspiring Learning and Engagement). This exciting expedition into natural sciences was organised by Alex McLeman, SMILE Network Leader from Bolton Library and Museum Services.  SMILE has CPD and networking days which occur at least once a year in museums or other cultural learning venues. These special days provide an opportunity to share ideas and expertise about science learning with museum educators, managers and curators.

It must have been the grandest conference room we have used for a SMILE event, as we were in the Victorian splendour of the Oakfield Manor library. In the morning we gathered together to listen to Charlotte Smith, Head of Learning and Discovery. She gave us an overview about the wide range of science learning delivered by Chester Zoo. Leah Williams gave us an insight into the research the Zoo does and the conservation and community engagement projects which the Zoo leads both locally and globally.

Learning Manager, Sarah Bazley shared projects and activities which demonstrate how learning is at the heart of the Zoo and help to inspire future generations of naturalists. We learnt how biological science is made accessible by using the animals as inspiration. We discovered that a Mountain Chicken is a rare frog and that the Zoo uses a cuddly mountain chicken to weigh and measure. This mimics what the conservationists would do in the wild with real amphibians.

Colleagues from The Natural History Museum & Leeds Museum shared how they have developed resources to enhance the teaching of Evolution. Anette Shelford and Rebecca Machin explored their ideas of object-based sessions that use understanding of Evolution and Adaptation to support self-reflection for pupils.

We had time to network and share ideas over lunch and then we took part in activities around Chester Zoo and experienced interactive science around their latest major project – Islands. We were fortunate to see lots of endangered species including orangutans, Bali starlings, Sumatran tigers and Indian gharial crocodiles. We explored the Sumba Classroom, which was an imaginative interactive learning space. We saw how Chester Zoo uses animal specimens and zoological resources alongside augmented reality to provide a unique learning journey for their school visitors.

These are a few quotes from SMILE delegates from the evaluation at the end of the day.

“I found it a good balance of hearing about what is happening and seeing it in action. I love the different perspective by having SMILE in a Zoo. It showed science in action and individual activities were very interesting. I thought it was great and being free meant that I could come.”

“The presentations were interesting. The walk about through the Zoo was great. I enjoyed the lunch. It was great to talk to fellow museum professionals. The immersive Aurasma Augmented reality was totally new. Thank you!”

“The chance to network and get inspiration, Good ideas for interactives. Talking to other museum education people and stimulating ideas between people.”

SMILE really appreciates everyone’s time and dedication in making these events a success. Big thanks to all the speakers and to the Chester Zoo Learning and Discovery Team for hosting SMILE.  We also greatly appreciate the contribution from NWFeD, Curious Minds, MDNW and GEM who provide funding for SMILE events. Watch out for our next SMILE event in 2017.

SMILE has its own online network – – this site provides a forum for us to share expertise, interests & discuss needs for science learning in Museums.

To join this network please e-mail:

NEWS: NWFed Event – Developing University Partnerships Report

0 posted October 28th, 2016 | Leave a reply


In the newly re-opened Norton Priory Museum a small group of museum professional from numerous organisations across the North West gathered to listen to case studies from organisations that have successfully established and developed partnerships with universities to aid their research and develop new income streams.

Frank Hargrave, Director of Norton Priory, welcomed everyone and started the day’s presentations with a case study outlining some of the projects he and his team had worked on with PhD students, providing some helpful tips to help those attending understand how to develop similar projects.  Norton Priory has been successfully developing relationships with various universities for some time, an initiative they started when they realised how much research was happening in universities all over the UK that could so easily be applied to the collections of museums.

Frank explained how it’s usually easy to find the right academic to work on your project as their profiles and research interests are always featured on their university’s website making them easy to contact.  Before you contact anyone, it’s good to remember what you as a museum can offer to a university or one of their students and collaborative PhDs are often a good place to start.  Universities are always looking for projects for MA students to move onto PhDs but you can also provide hands-on experience and career advice for students that their lecturers can’t.

Once you’ve sourced an academic partner, new funding sources will be opened up to the project which are specific to academic research, including Arts and Humanities Research Council funding which isn’t usually open to museums but you should remember that you will also open up funding avenues for the university that they are unable to apply to.  When working with universities they can often throw in costs to placements which are easily covered by academic funders but not through museum funds.  Listen to what your academic partner wants but be wary about universities looking to place their students with you so they don’t have to look after them.

Before approaching a university or academic with a project proposal it’s good to remember that your collections contain things numerous items of interest to academics. Lecturers are always looking for PhD opportunities and post-doc research projects and with increasing pressure being put on university departments to demonstrate public impact and engagement, something museums do very well, it makes a positive reaction to a well researched proposal highly likely.  Of course partnerships don’t always work out, in which case move on as there are plenty of other universities you can work with.

Tom Fildes, Norton Priory’s Business Development Director, then went on to explain in detail one of the current projects they are working on with the University of Liverpool’s Engineering Department to develop a portable carbon dating device.  The development of such a device will of course redevelop museum collections by being able to quickly and accurately date artefacts on site at any museum but it will also help to build Norton Priory’s credibility and eventually see revenue from the sale of the device.

To help maintain a good working relationship, Tom explained how he has  needed to maintain a level of flexibility throughout the partnership while keeping an open mind about where the project will go.

Finally, Meg McHugh and Jan Hicks from the Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI) in Manchester focused their case study on REALab, a pilot project which was conducted in partnership with several institutions and provided university students with experience and networking opportunities. The outcome for MoSI was a high quality report without having to bring in a paid consultant and instead bringing in a team of PhD researchers.  The other benefits of the project included getting a different perspective and gaining university contacts which broadened their network.

Having only recently become part of the Science Museum Group MoSI has added research to its objectives and with limited internal resources to do the research they want to they have instead found ways to bring in outside researchers from universities.  MoSI is using its new university network to develop projects examining areas they want to explore further and continuing to think more actively about how university students can become part of the museums work.

Working under the REALab project was MoSI’s first experience of working in partnership with a university and their students.  During the process they learnt a lot about how they could better develop future partnerships and have since changed the way they work creating longer lead in times for projects to allow time for academic research to be undertaken. They now plan to take forward and develop further and plan to develop a research strategy, build up a roster of PhD students, actively blog about research, build the museums research profile and take the time to explain to the universities what they have in their collections.

NEWS: 2018 Museums Network

0 posted October 28th, 2016 | Leave a reply


2018 will mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which saw voting rights granted to women for the first time.  The 1918 act enfranchised women over 30 who met certain property ownership requirements, and extended the vote to almost all men over the age of 21. It laid the path for the introduction of universal suffrage ten years later, which saw women win equal voting rights to men.

After a lot of interest was expressed around the idea of a network which would provide opportunities for organisations planning to celebrate this anniversary to share information and discuss the possibilities of joint promotion on external and public-facing websites and platforms, the Museums Association’s Director Sharon Harper took the decision to create the 2018 Museums Network bringing together museums with plans to commemorate the anniversaries of several gender equality milestones in 2018.

2018 will also mark the 50th anniversary of the women’s strike at Ford Dagenham, which led to the eventual introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, and the 130th anniversary of the matchwomen’s strike, which saw women take collective action against hazardous working conditions and poor pay.

If your museum has plans to celebrate these anniversaries or you are interested in finding out more about joining the network, please contact Sharon Harper on the details below.    A number of museums have already started planning events for 2018, including the East End Women’s Museum in London, which is in the planning stages and will open to coincide with the anniversaries in 2018, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and St Fagan’s Museum of National History in Wales.

Sharon Harper, Director, Museums Association:


NEWS: Support Our Skills Volunteer Development Programme Update

0 posted October 27th, 2016 | Leave a reply


Volunteer Development Programme Pilot:  November 2016 – March 2017

Following the consultation undertaken earlier this year which engaged with over 300 volunteers from museums, galleries and heritage organsiations across the North West, the NWFed’s training project for volunteers ‘SoS (Support our Skills) Volunteer Development Programme’ will begin this November. The NWFed and MDNW are pleased to be working with consultant Debbie Walker who will now take forward the programme’s development as it enters its pilot phase, developing a bespoke programme with a small group of invited participants.

The Programme funded by Museum Development North West will offer up to 10 places for volunteers who have been referred and supported by the museum’s they volunteer for. The programme will be free to attend and will include travel expenses to all training sessions. Most sessions will take place in venues in Preston or Manchester to make access and logistics as easy as possible.

Who is it for?

This initial phase is aimed at volunteers who are keen to develop/update their knowledge and skills of the museum profession, either to pursue a career in museums or develop their role within the organisation they are volunteering.

Please note this initial pilot programme is not available to volunteers at National Museums, National Partner Museums or Museum Studies students.

When will it take place?

There will be 6 main sessions which will take place at Manchester and Preston venues. It will be begin with a 2 day introductory session on Friday 11 and Monday 14 November and then approximately one session per month.

Programme participants and the venues they volunteer for will also sign up to deliver a half-day themed session at their Museum. This will hopefully allow the group to share ideas, see a number of different venues and importantly get to know each other and develop a lasting relationship.

How to apply – If you have a volunteer(s) you would like to refer on the programme, please contact Debbie Walker using the contact details listed below.

Debbie Walker:  Email – , Telephone – 0784 600 3638.

NEWS: Lancashire Museums Last Chance

0 posted September 13th, 2016 | Leave a reply



Earlier this year Lancashire County Council (LCC) announced a call out to interested third parties seeking to submit detail business plans to take over any of the five museums they could no longer afford to run. The decision was taken following budget cuts which meant the LCC could no longer afford to fund the museums. Its  financial strategy report, published towards the end of last year, concluded that over the five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21 the council needed to make savings of £262m on top of those previously agreed.

Numerous potentially viable business plans were received for the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster, the Maritime Museum in Fleetwood, the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale.   Plans from four organisations which have applied to take over the five museums were most recently discussed at a cabinet meeting on 8 September. , the meeting decided which of the museums will be transferred to third parties.

Although very little detail was announced following the meeting, the LCC did confirm that all five museums would close to the public on 30 September 2016, while negotiations continue with the four organisations. It is expected that the approved transfers will be made by the end of December this year. Councillor Marcus Johnstone, the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, explained:

“This is extremely good news for the future of these museums. There is obviously still a lot of work to do but it is very encouraging to see such robust and well-thought-through business plans.  In an ideal world we would not have been forced into this position but as we no longer have the funding to keep these cultural resources open we can at least do a thorough job to ensure that they have a sustainable future.”

With proper care and maintenance plans having been put in place to ensure each of the venues in question are looked after, preserved properly, and kept safe and secure, the intention is that negotiations can be concluded as soon as possible with a view to the transfers being made by 31 December 2016.

NEWS: NWFED Chair, Katy Ashton, goes on Maternity Leave

0 posted September 13th, 2016 | Leave a reply



Katy Ashton has been involved as a Trustee and as the Chair of the North West Federation of Museums Board for just over 5 years. During her time with us, Katy has been a true advocate of everything the NWFed stands for, actively championed the interests of museums and galleries in the North West, and the people who work in them, on both a regional and a national level and recruiting numerous new individual and institutional members.  Overseeing the NWFed’s activities, Katy has played a huge role in planning and delivering the NWFed’s programme of training and networking events for members as well as developing ambitious business plans, successfully creating new partnerships and securing funding for new innovative new development programmes.

Katy will be temporarily stepping down from her role as Chair on 21 October to take maternity leave and in her place, Alex Walker, one of the newer members of the NWFed’s Board will be stepping into Katy’s role as Acting Chair until Katy returns in 2017.  Many of you will already know Alex from her role as the North West’s representative of the Museums Association or as the Head of Arts and Heritage at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery from where she recently retired.  On Alex’s appointment and her temporary departure, Katy shared her thoughts:

“I’m shortly going to be heading off on maternity leave and taking a break from my role as Chair of the NWFed. I’m delighted that Alex Walker has agreed to take on the role of Acting Chair while I’m on leave and I know that the Board and the Federation will be in very safe hands. With her extensive experience as a leader in the sector at the Harris Museum in Preston and with her other roles including NW representative for the Museums Association, Alex is the perfect person to continue to develop the NWFed while I’m away. You can continue to keep up to date with all NWFed news on our website and newsletter over the coming year.”

From everyone at the NWFed, we would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best at this exciting time for her and her family.

To read Alex Walker’s profile on the NWFed’s Blog, Click Here

NEWS: Introducing New NWFED Board Member, Alex Walker

0 posted September 13th, 2016 | Leave a reply


The NWFed is pleased to announce the appointment of new Board member, Alex Walker, who is currently acting as the North West’s representative of the Museums Association.

Despite recently retiring from her position as Head of Arts and Heritage at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Alex is continuing to remain highly active within the sector across the North West and nationally. Alex recently become Vice-chair of the British Association of Friends of Museums, is a member of the Chethams Library Redevelopment Steering Group and is also a committee member of the Lancashire Art Fund.  Alex has extensive experience in museums sector having led the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, known for its community focussed approach and ambitious exhibitions programme, for a number of years and under her leadership won the 2014 Contemporary Arts Society annual award and became a Plus Tate member.  Having been a member of the NW Museums Development Steering Group, Alex has a long association with the NWFed including previously acting as the NWFed’s President, on her appointment, Alex explained:

 “I am privileged to be able to put my experience in the sector to support the NWFed. The NW has an extraordinarily varied and rich museum offer.  In these difficult and uncertain times for museums  networks, mutual support and knowledge sharing are vitally important.  The Fed has an important role to play in this and can help build the resilience of the talented and dedicated people who work in museums across the region.    I am also pleased to be able to support our new development programme for volunteers which will strengthen their skills and benefit the museums in which they work.”

When appointing board members, it is important to us that those appointed are prepared to oversee and support the work of the NWFED while acting as ambassadors for the organisation.  We are excited to be working with Alex and are sure her experience and expertise will make a great edition to the NWFED and our ongoing work.

Alex will also become the NWFed’s Acting Chair stepping in for Katy Ashton as she goes on Maternity leave.  To read the full story on our blog, Click Here.


NEWS: Museums Association to Expand Transformers Programme

0 posted August 30th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Freelance conservator Lucie Graham working on our N.H collection (2)

Freelance conservator Lucie Graham working on Gallery Oldham’s Natural History collection. Image Courtesy:  Gallery Oldham.


Following a successful application for Arts Council England’s (ACE) Museum Resilience Fund, The Museums Association (MA) has announced it is to expand its Transformers initiative.

Transformers is the Museums Association’s workforce initiative for people in mid-career, supported by any accredited museum (or museum working towards accreditation), looking to change the way they work.  Those who participate are challenged to develop new ways of thinking and supported throughout to engage with experimental ideas, fresh thinking and learning from the experience of experts and innovators.

Receiving £407,662 from the Museums Resilience Fund, the MA plan to broaden and diversify the Transformers targeting areas of particular need such as civic museums and smaller regional museums.

It will include three strands: intensive support, coaching, residential courses and workshops for 16 mid-career professionals, culminating in a £3,000 microfunded project at their museum; a two-day course for 130 participants, in partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, including learning from the Foundation’s Our Museum project, with sessions on change management, partnership working and influencing; and a programme of support and coaching for 20 mid-career museum professionals from diverse backgrounds.  Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, explains:

“We are delighted to have backing from ACE for this ground-breaking scheme that encourages innovation and risk-taking. We are working with partner organisations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that museum professionals across the UK are able to benefit from this pioneering scheme.

“The additional funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will enable us to embed the legacy and learning of the Our Museum programme into Transformers so that participants can embed working with communities as active partners in their work.”

To find out more  about Transformers and how you could participate, Click Here

NEWS: People History Museum Receives Museum Resilience Fund Grant

0 posted August 30th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Banners section - Main Gallery Two @ People's History Museum 2

Banners section – Main Gallery Two @ People’s History Museum


As Arts Council England announces the successful applicants of its second round of Museum Resilience Funding, organisations across the North West have been celebrating success.  John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Museums at Arts Council England explained:

‘The focus of our investment approach for museums in 2015 – 2018 is on building a more resilient sector.  The Museum Resilience Fund is a key part of that, providing vital support to museums right across the country.’

One of the North West’s successful recipients is Manchester’s Peoples History Museum who have been awarded £273,600 to undertake their project, Builders and Dreamers: the future of ideas worth fighting for, which will transform the museum over the next 18 months with the ambition of becoming a cultural centre for Manchester, the North West and the UK; a space where people debate and discuss the key ideas and issues facing society today. Katy Ashton, Director explained PHM’s delight at being granted the funding to undertake such an ambitious project:

‘The funding will enable us to strengthen the museum and add capacity in key areas which will make a real difference to the museum’s future.  By supporting the museum with this funding, the Arts Council is helping us to achieve our big ambitions as the national museum of democracy and home of ideas worth fighting for.

There are some extremely important anniversaries on the horizon for our museum to champion and lead, with a programme of activity on LGBT+ rights planned for 2017 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, the centenary of women first getting the right to vote in 2018 and the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019.  These are all huge opportunities for the museum and for our partners and audiences and we’re very excited to now have the additional support that comes with this grant.’

The Museum Resilience Fund is investing £30 million during 2015 – 2018 to focus on any gaps or development opportunities for excellent museums of all sizes.  To find out more about the fund and its recipients so far, Click Here

NEWS: Arts Council Unveils Museum Funding Shake Up

0 posted August 5th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Archives 2

Image Courtesy: The Atkinson

“Major Partner Museums scrapped but new opportunities open up”

Major Partner Museums and other ringfenced museum funding streams are to be abolished in a radical shake-up announced today by Arts Council England (ACE).

From 2018 onwards, all arts council funding for museums in England will be integrated into the existing National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), Grants for the Arts and strategic funding programmes. The changes come after a survey conducted by the research consultancy ComRes with 1,000 stakeholders found widespread support for the proposals in the culture sector.

ACE plans to introduce three funding bands for NPO applicants: grants between £40,000-£250,000; grants between £250,000-£1m; and grants of more than £1m. Less administrative burden will be placed on those applying for smaller grants, and the length of funding settlements will increase from three to four years.

The NPO programme will also include a new category, Sector Support Organisations, which will be available to organisations that offer support services to the sector rather than producing arts and culture themselves.

To read the full article originally published on Museums Journal, Click Here


0 posted August 2nd, 2016 | Leave a reply


Here at the NWFed we are always on the look out for places and spaces which can help us keep up with the latest happenings in the museum and gallery sector.  In a recent conversation with our partners over at Museum Development North West we found out about a space which we hadn’t previously discovered and wanted to share with you.

Museeum is a weekly updated e-mag devoted to encouraging people to activate all of their five senses and explore things anew by helping visitors to see, taste, touch, breathe and listen differently when they visit art spaces.

“Mu[see]um encourages you to see beyond the traditional museum experience. Activate all the senses and explore art spaces anew!”
Edited by a team of like-minded art professionals and enthusiasts, the team hope to enrich people’s cultural experience with tips on mind-blowing architecture, amazing food, unconventional shopping, breathtaking gardens and stimulating learning activities – everything that makes museums important creative and communication environments today.   

Why not take a look at MU[SEE]UM for yourself by following this link and sign up for their newsletter to keep up with the latest happenings.


NEWS: Four Towns and Cities Shortlisted to Host Great Exhibition of the North

0 posted July 29th, 2016 | Leave a reply


After much deliberation, the four shortlisted towns and cities who will battle it out to host the the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 have been named as Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield.

Strong bids were also submitted by teams in Halifax, Harrogate, Scunthorpe, St Helens and Whitehaven.  Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, explained:

“The Great Exhibition of the North is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England and I am thrilled we received so many innovative bids.”

After the final four venues are assessed by the Great Exhibition board, the final venue will be chosen by Ministers and announced this autumn.

The exhibition will run for at least two months, showcasing the great creative, cultural and design sectors across the whole of the North with a view to helping boost investment and tourism in the region.  The Government is contributing £5 million towards the exhibition and a further £15 million to a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the North.

To read the full press release published on Gov.UK, Click Here.  

NEWS: Culture Warrington Launches New Membership Scheme

0 posted July 28th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Roger Hunt 1

Local Warrington man Roger Hunt, a member of the World Cup-winning England team in 1966, signs up as the first patron of our new membership scheme, with Culture Warrington’s board chair Maureen Banner.  Image Courtesy: Culture Warrington.

The team at Culture Warrington have always been dedicated to making the town a thriving centre of activity and work tirelessly to promote its heritage, arts and entertainment offer.  With lots of exciting future plans to further improve this offer including a new Heritage Hub which will explore the town’s rich history, and a new gallery bringing the best of the contemporary arts to Warrington there are exciting times ahead for the team and its audiences old and new.

Even with all of this activity happening, Culture Warrington has still found the time to launch a brand new Membership Scheme.  To find out more about what this new scheme will offer audiences and bring to Warrington, our News Editor Emma Sumner spoke to Michelle Hill, Culture Warrington’s Collections and Archive Manager to find out more:

Emma Sumner: How did the idea of Culture Warrington running a membership scheme come about?  Was this something your audience asked for or something that you decided to set up as a source of income generation?

Michelle Hill: The main impetus for the set-up of the scheme was the museum being awarded a Catalyst grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The aim of the project was to look at making the organisation more sustainable, business-like and resilient following transfer from local authority management in 2012.

There were two main strands of the project with one aim – to increase our support base.  One part of the Catalyst project focused on launching a revamped Culture Warrington volunteer scheme and the other part was to look at formulating a fundraising strategy through sponsorship, philanthropy and developing a membership scheme.   We also wanted to reiterate that Culture Warrington is a charity and because of this there is now an increased emphasis on us raising our own funds and looking for financial support in a variety of ways.

ES:  What does a Culture Warrington membership give those who subscribe?

MH: At present, new members will get:

  • A six-monthly newsletter packed with news, information, exclusive interviews and blogs from across Culture Warrington
  • Priority booking for selected events – Be the first to book tickets at Pyramid and Parr Hall before they go on sale to the general public
  • Invitations to exclusive members-only events across Culture Warrington from exhibition previews to behind the scenes tours and opportunities to ‘meet the curator’
  • Access to discounted tickets and special offers to selected shows and events at Pyramid and Parr Hall
  • Save money on ticket purchases for events at Pyramid and Parr Hall with no booking fees
  • Membership badge
  • An additional free gift (a Culture Warrington shopper)

ES:  Since you launched, have you had a good response to the scheme and what has been the uptake?

MH: We launched it on 1 July and to date (27 July) we have had more than 20 members sign up.  There is a marketing plan in place to raise awareness of the scheme and a working group has been set up to monitor and further develop the scheme.

ES:  Does Culture Warrington have any future plans to develop the scheme further and if so how do you see it developing?

MH:  Yes we would like to develop family and corporate membership offers.  We decided to start with a couple of membership categories (single and double membership) to see how things go and then we can reflect on progress, examine member feedback and then look at developing the scheme further.  We would aim to review the benefits the scheme offers on an annual basis.

ES: What would your advice be to any other North West organisations who might want to look into setting up their own membership schemes?

MH: Set up a working group of staff representing different parts of the organisation and speak to  staff at all levels about suggestions and ideas that have been put forward.  Do your research into what other schemes are out there locally and their pricing structure; don’t overprice your scheme.  Ask your visitors what they would like to see from a scheme in terms of potential benefits and this should give you a steer.  Keep an eye on the benefits offered so you are not giving away more than the income you generate.  Have a dedicated person/team of people to meet regularly after the scheme has launched to keep it high on people’s agendas.  As with all projects once they have launched, it’s easy to let things drift as staff move onto other projects.

It was very useful for us to have an external consultant Marilyn Scott (director of the Lightbox in Woking) who has extensive experience in this area to guide us but obviously not everyone has the funds to do this. In which case it would be useful to get out and about and speak with people in other organisations that have set up schemes and get their advice about what has or hasn’t worked for them.

To find out more about the scheme or to become a member, Click Here

NEWS: Museums Association Find a Museum Tool

0 posted July 27th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Find a Museum 1

Earlier this year the Museums Association launched a new online database called Find a Museum.  A valuable and useful online tool, it allows anyone working for an institution with membership of the Museums Association to search for information about other museums collections, find contact details for fellow museum professionals, search relevant academic courses and find qualified training providers.

Having rolled out a new database over the past few weeks, our News Editor Emma Sumner caught up with MA’s Marketing and Sales Officer Emma Mitchinson to find out more about the project’s progress and future developments:

Emma Sumner:  Could you explain what Find a Museum is and what those who have access to it can benefit from?

Emma Mitchinson:  Find a museum is a fully searchable online directory, giving you the ability to search staff and collection information and use multiple fields to find the results you need. Includes:

  • over 2,700 museums, galleries, heritage sites and related organisations
  • over 12,000 staff across museum departments
  • search by collection type
  • search by job title
  • search by services offered
  • search by geographical area
  • research, admission and attendance figures
  • facilities and access information


Find a Museum 3

ES:  Why did the Museums Association feel this was a tool that was needed withing the sector?

EM:  Find a Museum is something that we have always produced, initially in a printed copy of the Museums & Galleries Yearbook. The online function has allowed people to filter their search by collection types, region etc which we think is more user friendly and is a quick go to guide at the touch of a button to find information on other museums.

ES:  Since it was launched, how have you seen it develop relationships between museums and perhaps what are some of the most successful connections it has created?

EM:  From user feedback we know that people like to find other members of staff with responsibility for similar collections or who have similar services and facilities at their museum. This can help with their research when putting on an exhibition, trying something new in their museum or for their own career development.

ES:  How do you see this tool developing in the future and does the Museum Association have any plans to develop its search potentials further?

EM:  We are looking at a web redesign at the moment and ideally we would like to develop and possibly link up some of our online functionalities, including Find a Museum. We would also like to develop Find a Museum further to help research areas such as the make-up of the workforce in the sector or get an idea of patterns in museum funding.

To find further information and details on how to subscribe to Find a Museum, Click Here.

NEWS: Money Matters – A New Creative Teaching and Learning Resource for Teachers

0 posted July 5th, 2016 | Leave a reply



The Harris Museum has a nationally important 12,500 item strong numismatic collection which was formerly underused. The Money Matters Project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation started in 2014 has transformed how this fantastic collection is used. As well as repacking and cataloguing the collection, the project has allowed the Harris to network with other museums and share expertise.

As this project draws to a close, a brand new creative teaching and learning resource commissioned by the Harris Museum’s Money Matters project and Curious Minds has been made available to download from Museum Development North West’s (MDNW) blog, providing a link between museums and those who would like to know more about how to use their collections creatively. To help explain how this new resource can help teachers and those working in learning environments, James Arnold, History Curator at the Harris, introduces it:

“The resource is aimed at museum practitioners and teachers who want to find out more about the numismatic (coin and medal) collections in the North West and how to bring them to life to inspire pupil learning and engagement. The resource contains:

  • An introduction to numismatic (coin and medal) collections and what they are
  • Ideas for creative learning using numismatic collections
  • Creative ideas and a curriculum map
  • Arts Award using coins and medals
  • In practice examples in the North West
  • Links to other resources

In 2013 MDNW carried out a small consultation with museums. The results were clear – there was a huge willingness by museums to use their numismatic collections if they could, but holding them back was their lack of confidence in knowing what they had and how to use it. In recent years museum staff and volunteers have struggled with how to make collections relevant and accessible against a backdrop of ever diminishing resources and expert knowledge leaving the sector. Yet the mapping work undertaken by the Money & Medals Network has shown the large number of numismatic collections held by the region’s museums, some of them being part of the founding collections of museums with their roots in the 19th century.

To download a copy from MDNW’s blog, Click Here.

NEWS: Museum Freecycle Update

0 posted June 28th, 2016 | Leave a reply


Two years after its was founded by Caroline Keppel-Palmer, the Museum Freecycle network has grown substantially, and with over 550 members across the UK, continues to help museums reuse, reduce and recycle unwanted items in new and innovative ways.   To find out more about this successful project, the NWFed caught up with Keppel-Palmer to find out more about the benefits museums who join the network could enjoy.

Keppel-Palmer explained that at the time of founding Museum Freecycle, she was working as the Managing Director for the architecture and design studio, Urban Salon. The company worked with many museums designing temporary exhibitions and much of the display kit from these exhibitions was ending up in the skip, even though most of it was perfectly reusable.  It was repeatedly seeing this waste which spurred Keppel-Palmer on to establish the Museum Freecycle network as a space where museums could advertise and dispose of unwanted items – including exhibition furniture, display cases and office equipment – to other museums who have a use for them.

Having seen the network go from strength to strength over the last two years, Keppel-Palmer explained:

“I am keen to see as many UK museums as possible join and benefit from Museum Freecycle, so we can reduce waste to an absolute minimum and help as many museums as possible get access to ‘new’ free equipment.  The more members we have, the better the site will work for everyone.”

The network has also helped  numerous museums to develop and upgrade their visitor experiences in spite of financial constraints and ever-tighter budgets.  It’s not just standard museum equipment and fittings that find new homes either; currently Museum Freecycle is helping to find new homes for a bride and groom cake topper, a pregnant wire mannequin and a Victorian courtroom dock.


It is very quick and easy for any museum to sign up and join the network.  To do so, museums simply need to create a free Freecycle account and then apply to join the Museum Freecycle group.

To sign up and enjoy the benefits this ever  growing network could bring your museum,Click Here.

NEWS: Economics of Touring Exhibitions Survey Report Launched

0 posted June 14th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Halima Cassell Private View at Kirkby Gallery3
Back in April 2015, the Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG) was awarded £40,000 by Arts Council England as part of their Museum Resilience Fund to support the delivery of a two year research and training programme which would explore the current economics of touring exhibitions in the UK.  Operating under the title ‘Economics of Touring Exhibitions:  Models for Practice’, the programme recently launched three new resources to help museums and galleries within the UK find out more about the economic benefits of touring their exhibitions.

All of these resources can each be downloaded by clicking on the link above and are freely available to all museums and galleries through TEG’s website.  For those who may not already be aware of the Touring Exhibitions Group’s work, they are a UK based independent membership network committed to exchanging exhibitions as a means of sharing ideas, materials and resources and to extend public awareness, knowledge and enjoyment of historical and contemporary culture.

To find out more about TEG’s  on-going work, research and events, Click Here

NEWS: Neil MacGregor Warns of Erosion of Curatorial Strength in the Regional Museums

0 posted June 14th, 2016 | Leave a reply

John Caley Illustration

Installation of the giant deer skeleton in the Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum. Photo by John Caley, copyright Manx Museum and National Trust

In a recent blog for the Museums Association the former Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor  raised his concerns about the curatorial strength in museums outside London becoming “a very serious issue”.  Now retired and acting as advisor to a number of international institutions, MacGregor gave evidence to a select committee hearing last week as part of the ongoing Countries of Culture Inquiry, which is examining the landscape of cultural provision across the UK.

MacGregor told the committee that the financial constraints on local authorities meant that curators were not being recruited because they “rarely generate revenue” in a way that can be easily quantified leading to a steady erosion of curatorial strength in the regions.  He then went on to explain:

“This loss of specialist knowledge is making it difficult for some museums to borrow from other institutions or use their own collections effectively.  It is very hard for those collections outside London to be intelligent borrowers, because the curator needs to know what would be useful to borrow and useful to use; but perhaps even more significantly, it makes it impossible for the local museum to use its own resource properly.”

The Countries of Culture Inquiry are continuing to hear evidence from culture, museum and heritage professionals throughout the month and will issue a report on their findings later this year.

To read the full article which was originally published on the Museums Association blog, Click Here

IN PROFILE: Norton Priory’s Sustainable Redevelopment

0 posted May 5th, 2016 | Leave a reply



As you approach Runcorn’s Norton Priory site, tucked behind a modern industrial estate, there is very little clue of this 12th century monastery site’s historical significance.  Currently undergoing significant redevelopment as part of a HLF funded capital project ‘Monastery to Museum 900’, the priory is due to reopen its doors this coming August showcasing a fully redeveloped museum and newly conserved undercroft.

As the most excavated medieval monastic site in Europe, Norton Priory boasts some of the most incredible stories and objects which will be displayed more fully than was previously possible in new innovative first floor viewing gallery which will help visitors better understand the ruins while also carefully preserving the grade 1 listed 12th century undercroft to properly demonstrate the sites national historical significance.

Although visitors are obviously an important focus of Norton Priory’s ‘Monastery to Museum 900’ development project, one of the aims of the £4.5m redevelopment is also to help with the Priory’s future sustainability.  Engaging larger audiences will be integral to this, with visitors to the museum anticipated to increase by 60%, greater audiences will of course increase admission and secondary spend income.  In consultation with local teachers, the project will also double the size of the learning suite to provide facilities for larger school groups helping to deal with the rising costs in transport and further pressures on their pupils time in school.

Central to all of the decisions made during the project’s development was the need for flexibility, particularly for providing means to offer event, wedding and conference facilities. The learning suite will not only double in size, it will also have a moveable partition allowing for the space to seat 100 people theatre style. In one of the new exhibition spaces, an area has been opened to provide an activity space designed to demonstrate traditional skills, linked to the Priory’s traditional skills programme which provides another source of income.

Although Norton Priory’s redevelopment project concentrates greatly on visitors experience, there are also significant development taking place behind the scenes.  In recent years, the Priory has developed significant research partnerships with the Universities of Liverpool, Lancaster, Leicester, Liverpool John Moores, Nottingham, Birmingham and Sheffield. These partnerships have not only helped to better understand the Priory’s collections, but they have also provided financial opportunities.  Frank Hargrave, Norton Priory’s Director explained:

“We have found that [our partnerships with Universities] has increased our profile with the media and many of the research areas have attracted significant funding not limited specifically to research time but to outputs such as exhibitions, matchfunding for the capital project and even for core costs and new revenues streams.”

Given the continuous squeezing of local government budgets, it feels important to note that Norton Priory’s redevelopment will not only demonstrate the historical significance of this important monastery site, it will also put in place a solid structure for in-house income generation to help secure the museum’s future.

NEWS: £4 million grants announced for English Museums and Galleries

0 posted April 29th, 2016 | Leave a reply

£4 million grants announced for English Museums and Galleries under DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund

Grants will allow institutions across the country to increase access, improve displays and enhance public spaces

Grants totalling £4 million have been awarded to improve displays and facilities at museums and galleries across England, Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, announced today.

The grants, jointly funded through a partnership between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Wolfson Foundation, will be used for renovation and improvement projects in 39 museums and galleries.

It will allow institutions across the country to increase access, improve displays and enhance public spaces.

Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said:

Our museums and galleries are among the best in the world and we should be rightly proud of these institutions.

We want people to be able to enjoy world-leading culture wherever they live and whatever their background. These grants will make an important contribution toward increasing access to their wonderful collections and improving the visitor experience at museums right across the country.

I applaud the Wolfson Foundation’s generosity in once again matching the Government’s investment pound for pound in this important work.

Paul Ramsbottom, CEO of the Wolfson Foundation, said:

This is a wonderful example of how a charity and government can work fruitfully together in partnership and we are grateful to government for matching our funding. The awards demonstrate the richness and variety of the country’s museum collections. From Egyptian mummies in Leicester to a Roman fort on Tyneside, this is a gloriously diverse set of projects – but all demonstrate excellence and all will improve the visitor experience.

In announcing these awards I also want to pay tribute to Giles Waterfield. He was a brilliant advisor to the programme from its inception and sparkled at an expert panel meeting in the very week in which he tragically and unexpectedly died. We all owe him a great deal.



NEWS: Zooming-in on Manx National Heritage’s Collections

0 posted April 29th, 2016 | Leave a reply

iMuseum Logo

Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, has come up with a brand new iMuseum giving its online audiences an even better view of the nation’s history and collections.

As well as the collections, the iMuseum is the Isle of Man’s definitive online family history resource with free access to fully-searchable names indexes transcribed from original archives.  Working with Knowledge Integration (  and Gooii ( on an elastic search index and WordPress solution, Manx National Heritage’s iMuseum now offers more exciting and flexible ways of searching, sorting and displaying the nation’s collections, including easy ‘share this’ social media links, a collecitons blog and a real-time visitor comments facility.  But perhaps most exciting in this new phase of iMuseum is the release for the first time of zoomable images.  Drawing directly from high-resolution digital images, users can zoom-in on thousands of images from the Photographic Archive and Art Collection.

iMuseum sees Manx National Heritage join a recognised online heritage community with Knowledge Integration delivering similar solutions to the Museum of London, Royal Museums Greenwich, National Museum Wales, Imperial War Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum and Norfolk Museums Service.  iMuseum shares its collections with a number of online partners including Art-UK, Archives Hub, Archaeology Data Service, Ancestry and FamilySearch.

In the next few months iMuseum will incorporate responsive design making it better suited to smart phone and tablet technology and the island’s important motorsport database for the annual TT and Manx Grand Prix motorcycle races recording riders and races (1907-2015) will be added to iMuseum, celebrating a remarkable sporting heritage.

Edmund Southworth, Director, Manx National Heritage, says:

“iMuseum is an excellent opportunity for us to manage and make our extensive collections more accessible to the Manx public as well as an off island audience.  It extends the reach and potential audience for our collections and offers us a greater ability to effectively promote ourselves worldwide and create a platform for a greater understanding of the Island’s heritage and culture.”

For more information about iMuseum or to offer feedback, contact Jude Dicken (MNH Collections Information Officer):

COMMENT: High-Street Strategies in Galleries and Museums

0 posted March 27th, 2016 | Leave a reply

In times of adversity, funding cuts and tightly squeezed budgets, commerciality and sustainability are becoming words that many arts organisations are having to embrace within their organisation’s strategy.  For many, this is a hard path to tread as many curators and operation managers can feel that commercialisation of their organisation’s collection can undermine the fundamental reasons for which they preserve and present their collection.

These beliefs can dramatically inhibit the progress of such organisation’s retail operations and perhaps it is how the products can enhance the visitors experience and prolong their enjoyment following a visit as the need to engage and excite customers emotionally is a critical part of the buying process.

Taking all of these issues into account, in an article for Arts Professional, Corin Birchall shares his advice on what museums and galleries can learn from high street retail strategies to improve their commercial offer.

Below are some particularly relevant points from Birchall’s article:

“As high-street retailers grapple with the implications of ever-changing shopping habits, many have shifted their emphasis towards the customer experience … For museums and art galleries this may result in more thematic approaches to display. For example, products displayed in crates surrounded by packing materials to create the feeling of discovering priceless artefacts in the institution’s storage or archives.”

“Addressing buying pain is an important issue for the arts and culture sector. Buying pain is an inhibiting behaviour in which shoppers spend more cautiously due to a perception that a store doesn’t represent great value … It would be reasonable to assume that most customers would perceive art gallery shops to be expensive, compared to high street and supermarket retailers. In some instances this may be true but often it isn’t. Reducing buying pain and the perceived risk can be as simple as strategically placing a number of great special offers, price promises or examples of prices that beat the high street.”

“As retail stores will think very carefully about the layout of their fixtures and utilise ‘hotspots’ (areas with the most traffic and visibility), the arts can do the same. Ensure that the first hotspot features seasonal and topical products. This can link to an exhibit or show or reflect the time of year.”

“Regardless of size or budget, retail spaces can play a greater role in sustainability. Best practice surrounds us in many stores on the high street and online, so don’t be afraid to innovate and test new ideas or approaches. The retail landscape is transforming before our eyes and the arts and culture sector can trailblaze rather than play catch-up.”

To read the full article originally published on Arts Professional, Click Here.

COMMENT: Arts fundraising – a job not just for fundraisers

0 posted March 27th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Back in February, the Guardian Cultural Professionals Network released an interesting article which brought together comments from four arts and culture professionals who are either directly or indirectly involved in fundraising for their organisation.  An interesting read, the article communicates how important it is for an organisations whole team to be involved in their fundraising strategy.

Below are some of the key points made by each of the professionals who contributed to the article:

Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation

“You are fundraising all the time … even if you’re not a fundraiser by role.  We all know fundraising is about building relationships. It’s about understanding who you’re talking with and about communicating compellingly, which means getting to know and being genuinely interested in people and organisations.”

Jane Marriott, Deputy Director, Hepworth Wakefield

“Fundraising is about inspiring a potential supporter, timing your “ask” perfectly and telling a compelling story about your organisation. It’s about being open and responsive to the motivations and passions of donors.”

Lucy Perman, Executive Director, Clean Break

“Remember that everyone is a fundraiser. Make sure that your whole team can tell the story – volunteers, trustees, partners, community, staff and other funders. You never know who they might meet, at a party, on a train, in a lift! Every chance encounter is an opportunity to spread your message.”

Aaron Wright, Programme Coordinator, Live Art Development Agency

“Consider how your fundraising strategies might be informed by your artistic programme. Does the way you’re fundraising match the ethos of your organisation? Think creatively and consider involving artists in your fundraising efforts.”

To read the full article originally published in The Guardian, Click Here.

FUNDING NEWS: ArtFund’s Moving Image Fund

0 posted March 27th, 2016 | Leave a reply

Launched back in September 2015 as a pilot scheme in response to the challenges faced by UK museums in building their collections of moving-image works. The first scheme of its kind in the UK, it aims to ensure that the most significant works of contemporary film and video art can be bought for public collections.  Just over six months after its launch, the scheme has been hailed a great success with several regional museums benefitting from financial support to expand their film collections.

The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester have jointly acquired Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves – a film made in tribute to the Chinese cockle-pickers who died at Morecambe Bay.

The Moving Image Fund’s pilot initiative has given £180,000 each to the Whitworth and Towner Art Gallery to collect film and video. Both institutions are in the process of making further acquisitions.

Isaac Julien said: “Ten Thousand Waves is a piece that began its life in the North of England and its homecoming is incredibly meaningful for me.”

The Towner Art Gallery and the Imperial War Museum also jointly purchased Omer Fast’s film 5,000 Feet is the Best with money from the Art Fund’s New Collecting Award Scheme.

Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, said: “Given the pressure regional museums are under right now, it is imperative that we do all we can to help them continue investing in building up the national collections.”

NEWS: Museums Association elects three new board members

0 posted March 20th, 2016 | Leave a reply

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The Museums Association’s members have elected three new members to the Museums Association’s board to begin in April.

They are Dhikshana Pering, the manager of young people’s programmes at the London Transport Museum; Heledd Fychan, the corporate affairs and advocacy manager for Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales; and Alex Bird, the sector development officer for Museum Development North West.

“I started my career in the museum and gallery sector in 2006 and have been lucky to work and build skills such as delivering, developing, managing and leading learning teams to success,” says Pering.

“From the start I was supported by my family to be able to take on unpaid volunteer and intern opportunities in the UK and abroad, and without this experience I would have not been able to realise the potential of the career I have carved.

“Diversity is something I have been aware of since I started working and for me is the crucial point I want to focus on in my career and as a board member for the MA.

“Institutions are delivering programmes that look to diversify audience make up and collection interpretation. But this is only one step, and as a collective we need to change how and why we recruit.

“Schemes that look for diversity have proved not to have the impact desired and as the last MA conference showed we all want the change.

“I hope to be able to work with the other members of the board and the membership to start to look at diversity from a different angle and direction. I feel privileged to be joining the board and excited about being able to be part of setting the direction for our sector.”

Fychan says: “At a time when museums are being pitted against health, education and social services it is crucial that we are able to articulate that museums play a crucial role in society.

“I believe that my advocacy background, and my experience of living and working in both Wales and Ireland, would be of value to the MA board and help support the progression of its Museums Change Lives campaign and the sector in each of the devolved member nations.”

Bird says: “I’m delighted to be joining the MA’s board and am looking forward to working with colleagues from across the country to support the Association throughout the next few years.

“My aim is to bring intelligence about the needs of the sector from front line staff through to trustees with a particular focus on training and development.

“I’m fully committed to developing the sector through the work the MA does to make it one that embraces new ways of working, is entrepreneurial and is armed with the tools to tackle the hardest of times.”

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, says: “We saw the largest ever number of members participating in this election, which I am delighted by, and I look forward to working with the new members of the board to take the MA’s vision forward.”

The new board members will replace Richard Sandell and Gaby Porter who are leaving in April.

David Liddiment, the creative director of the independent production company All3Media has been nominated as an appointed trustee, and will also join the board in April. Liddiment is also an associate of The Old Vic Theatre Company and a member of the BBC Trust.

NEWS: Manx National Heritage Produces Peel Castle Guide as part of Site series

0 posted March 20th, 2016 | Leave a reply

MNH Digital Image Library

NWFed Members, Manx National Heritage, have been busy working with the team at Isle of Man Advertising & PR towards the design and production of a new series of guidebooks. The new series, funded by the Manx Museum and National Trust, are being researched by Manx National Heritage staff to help promote the island’s heritage and unlock the history behind its numerous heritage sites.

Having just launched the second book in the series, ‘Explore Peel Castle’, Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage explained a little more about the book:

Peel Castle is one of the most important historic and religious sites in the British Isles, attracting a significant number of resident and international visitors during the season. The guidebook will not only improve the visitor experience by offering a greater understanding of the site and its historical significance, but will also prove to be effective documentation of our research and understanding of the site itself.”

A 40-page book featuring a number of previously unpublished images and new illustrations by local artist Julia Ashby Smyth as well as images from the Manx National Heritage museum archives, the book is a detailed study not only of the medieval Castle itself, but also tells the story of the historic site of St Patrick’s Isle.  Also including details of several excavations which took place during the 20th century, the publication ‘lifts the lid’ on the Island’s history.

The further four books in the series will include a detailed guide to the collections of the Manx Museum, including some of its leading exhibits, as well as the four Castletown sites (Castle Rushen, Old Grammar School, Old House of Keys and the Nautical Museum, the island’s Southern sites (including Cregneash and Rushen Abbey) and the Grove Museum, Ramsey.

Explore Peel Castle, priced at £5.95, can be ordered online at and is available from all MNH retail sites, including the House of Manannan and Manx Museum. 

NEWS: Museum Association publish new Code of Ethics

0 posted February 21st, 2016 | Leave a reply

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Many of you may already be aware that the Museums Association has recently conducted a review of the Code of Ethics for Museums which led to the adoption of a new Code of Ethics by unanimous vote at the MA’s AGM in Birmingham in November 2015. Designed to be shorter and more user-friendly than the previous code, the latest version can be found here:

Museums Association – Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics is a vitally important document for the museums sector. It sets out the key principles which should underpin ethical behaviour in all aspects of museum activity – working for public benefit and engagement, the ethical stewardship of museum collections and maintains integrity in individual and institutional behaviour.

The new code reaffirms some of the traditional ethics of the museums sector, such as the presumption against unethical sale from museum collections and the suppression of the illicit trade in cultural and scientific items. It also sets new expectations for museums as guardians of free speech and editorial integrity and the pursuit of ethical sponsorship arrangements.

The Code of Ethics applies to all museums and those who work in, with or for museums. It is upheld by the Museums Association Ethics Committee which meets regularly to provide expert guidance to the sector on ethical best practice, and, where necessary, can also intervene in instances of unethical museum practice.

To find out more or to download the latest version of the Code of Ethics, Click Here.


NEWS: Introducing New NWFed Board Member Rachel Mulhearn

0 posted February 21st, 2016 | Leave a reply


During the last North West Federation of Museum’s board meeting, held on 15 January 2016 (full meeting minutes available here), we welcomed some new Board members including Rachel Mulhearn who is the Director of Rachel Mulhearn Associates, a cultural heritage consultancy which works across the UK.

Previous to setting up Mulhearn Associates in 2012, Rachel was Director of Merseyside Maritime Museum for 24 years. Also a board member of the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, Rachel brings extensive experience of working in the North West arts and heritage sector to the Board.  On being appointed Rachel explained:

“My role as a NWFED board member allows me the opportunity to work with colleagues across the region. We have serious challenges, but we also have great talent and skills. I want to bring along my experience of working in museums and use the creativity and innovation out there to work through difficulties, and go from strength to strength as a sector.”

When appointing board members, it is important to us that those appointed are  prepared to oversee and support the work of the NWFED while acting as ambassadors for the organisation.  We are excited to be working with Rachel and feel her experience and expertise will make a great edition to organisation.