The Museums Association has published Museums 2020, a sector-wide 'initiative to create a bold vision for UK museums and their impact – the difference museums can have on individuals, communities, society and the environment.'
The Collections Trust welcomes this initiative to promote strategic thinking about the future direction of museums, and has submitted a response reflecting our mission, which is:
“Working with and on behalf of our community, we promote excellence, innovation and engagement in the management and use of Collections. We positively champion collections and their public value within the museum, arts & related heritage sectors.”
A summary of the key points of our response is given below. You can also download the full text of our response here. We invite members of the UK and international museum community to comment on the points we have raised in our response.
MA Museums 2020 - Summary of key points
- As we look ahead to the undoubted challenges of 2015 and beyond, it is certain that the sector will require clarity, leadership and direction if it is to weather the current difficult climate and emerge from it with renewed strength.
- The Collections Trust’s aspiration for museums in 2020 is that they are celebrated, that they are visited (online and in person), that they contain extraordinary collections, that they tell compelling stories, that they are well-run, that they make Britain stronger and that they connect us to the rest of the world.
- It is incumbent on the Museums Association, the Arts Council England, Northern Ireland Museums Council, CyMAL, Museums Galleries Scotland and the National Museum Directors Council to demonstrate this leadership and to present a coherent and united narrative to current and future Governments and the visiting public.
- As it currently stands, Museums 2020 focuses exclusively on the impact of museums on current social welfare and social policy agendas. We are concerned that this fundamentally limits it both in terms of scope and long-term relevance. We strongly urge the Museums Association to take a broader view which encompasses both the celebration of museums as a tremendously important part of public life and the fact that their impact is uniquely rooted in material and intangible culture – the Collections they manage on behalf of the public.
- We strongly encourage the Museums Association to consider the development of the museum of the future as a process of evolution, rather than revolution, and to reflect the need to maintain a consistent foundation of collections, professional practice and governance to ensure that the participatory and socially-engaged museum is also sustainable and accountable.
- We encourage the Museums Association to consider their 2004 Manifesto for Museums when re-defining the scope of Museums 2020 to ensure that it reflects the full breadth of impact (and advocacy messages) that museums can have.
- We consider it essential that the vision which arises from Museums 2020 reflects the vital role played by professional practice and accountable collections management in enabling museums to deliver wider impacts on a sustainable basis.
- We encourage the Museums Association to work with the Collections Trust, the Arts Council England, CyMAL, Northern Ireland Museums Council, Museums Galleries Scotland and the National Museum Directors Council to develop a coherent evidence-base in support of any advocacy activity arising from Museums 2020.
- Although we appreciate that Museums 2020 is in its consultation phase, we would encourage the Museums Association to be transparent in expressing the outcomes you expect it to generate and to be clear in constructing the ask – whether it is for more money, to protect Local Authority investment, to encourage or support philanthropy or some other beneficial outcome for museums.