ACE announce new small capital grant scheme

At the Museum Development Network conference this week, Arts Council England announced £1.2m of new funding for a small capital grant scheme for museums in England. There is £125,000 available to NW museums and MDNW will administer the programme.

The purpose of the fund is to allow museums to improve their buildings, enabling them to borrow significant objects from museums, particularly national and Major Partner Museums. It may be used for upgrading buildings and display spaces to meet the requirements of the Government Indemnity Scheme.

Grants could cover costs such as:

  • Environmental works (lighting, heating, climate control)
  • Display cases
  • Reinforced windows and doors
  • Building alarm systems
  • Object protection devices (barriers, radios, CCTV)
  • Small scale building work

Funds must be spent by 31st March 2016 and preference will be given to museums which have not used the Government Indemnity Scheme before or had a loan from a national museum.

Further details on eligibility, criteria and how to apply will be announced on this blog in the next few days.

Freelance Opportunity: Reminiscence and Memories Facilitator for Headlands to Headspace, Morecambe Bay’s Landscape Partnership Scheme

Morecambe Bay Partnership wishes to appoint an independent facilitator to plan and deliver reminiscence and schools’ education sessions to support the delivery of Project 9: Memories and Histories for Headlands to Headspace, Morecambe Bay’s Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The aims of the projects are to develop an intergenerational oral history project – designed to bring young and old together. It will add status to older people and a deeper/rooted belonging to younger people. Research indicates that this can bring a range of positive heritage, social and health benefits.

This will:

  • (i) build new importance and value to reminiscences and oral histories
  • (ii) develop new educational materials from learning face-to-face about the history of our communities,
  • (iii) engage local people in telling their stories in a way that can contribute local exhibitions, including Museums
  • (iv) engage with primary schools, especially urban deprived and rural isolated communities and build new partnerships with Age UK and community groups.

For full details please download the Project Brief

  • Deadline for submission – 5pm, 24 July
  • The total cost for delivery of this work is to be no more than £32,000 (excluding VAT)

Submissions should be sent by email to Michelle Cooper,, and will be acknowledged.  These should arrive by date shown on the timetable.  Late submissions will not be accepted.

Northern Museums Volunteer Pass 2016-17

In April the Museum Development teams from the North West, Yorkshire and the North East launched the first Northern Museums Volunteer pass giving volunteers the chance to benefit from offers in 112 museums in the North of England.

The pass scheme is a mutually beneficial partnership between participating museums and entitles volunteers to free entry (and/or additional benefits where advertised) at participating museums in the region. A leaflet is produced annually listing all participating museums and the benefits at each institution for volunteers.

To be eligible to participate in the scheme museums must be able to offer a benefit to volunteer pass holders visiting from other museums. This may include:

  • free entry to the museum
  • 10% discount in the shop and/or cafe
  • free tea and/or coffee
  • free guide-book and/or pen

These benefits may be extended to include one guest accompanying the volunteer pass holder.

Once accepted into the scheme, museums will be issued with named Institutional Passes, which they can loan out to their volunteers, and also Individual Passes. The Institutional Pass is equivalent to 10 volunteers. The Individual Pass is not transferable.

The Volunteer Pass Scheme is viewed as a valuable recruitment and retention tool and museums manage the scheme in a variety of different ways. The passes can be used for CPD and/or training as well as a reward and incentive for volunteers. As individual passes are not transferable, we recommend that the passes are accessible only to your active volunteer base. If museums require any additional passes we would encourage the use of the institutional pass in the first instance.

If you are interested in participating in the scheme next year please complete this short application.

If you would like further information please speak to Alex Bird – / 07852 138110 or Gillian Waters –

The Audience Agency making sense of visitor data

Understanding who your visitors are and learning from their visitor experience is key to growing and retaining your visitor base in the future. The Audience Agency offers services to help you; identify who are your visitors and non-visitors, understand where your potential lies to increase visitors and draw together effective audience development plans to reach them.

Over the past two years the Agency has been running a national project called Audience Finder which has embraced all artforms across England. Through participating venues we now have collected over 100k visitor surveys and crunched millions of box office transactions so that we have the biggest ever dataset of cultural attenders which has informed the creation of the Audience Spectrum segmentation tool.

So what?

In a nutshell this means that we now know an awful lot more about cultural consumers in your area and we’d like to support and encourage your organisation to use this intelligence.

We can offer unique benchmarking for your organisation – reflecting on your potential visitors and giving you insights about levels of engagement on a local, regional and national scale.

Thanks to support from the Arts Council of England we have developed a free resource with lots of insights to dip into – simply register and create your user account at

In addition the Audience Agency research services can produce bespoke profile reports using your existing visitor data – for instance; mailing lists, Gift Aid donors, membership subscribers or workshop attendees can all be excellent sources of data which we can analyse using Audience Spectrum and Mosaic 6 segmentation models. If you like to visualise your visitor profiles we can also produce maps showing where they live by area, local authority or drivetime from your museum.

To find out more and to discuss your research needs please contact Margot Walker by email or DD 07921915350

Future Proof Museums Programme

Originally posted on Museum Development North West:

Details about the Future Proof Museums programme are now available and interested participants are able to register their interest.

The programme has three stages and focuses on the following:

Stage One

Focuses on a diagnostic session to help you and your team identify future opportunities.

Each museum taking part in the Future Proof Museums programme will start by exploring their future direction as a team together with one of our specialist trainers.

This will take place within your museum to enable a range of people to take part; to explore different perspectives across the organisation and to highlight areas of agreement as well as those that might be contradictory.

Stage Two

Is a three day intensive residential programme at the Moller Centre, Cambridge on 14-16 September 2015.

The Museum Director from each participating organisation will join us for a residential programme to explore a strategic change toolkit for their museum.

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Job Opportunity: National Museums Liverpool

Pride & Prejudice Project Researcher Fine/Dec Art
National Museums Liverpool
Salary – £20,742 – 22,704 p.a. (pro rata)
Part-time position (22.20 hours per week)

Closing Date – Friday 24th July

This research post offers an exciting opportunity to be involved in National Museums Liverpool’s pioneering work in representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) lives, art, heritage, culture and history. With a grant from the Esmeé Fairbairn Collections Fund, we are undertaking a two-year project, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, to identify, research, catalogue and put online the LGBT and gender-focused objects in the collections of the Walker and Lady Lever Art Galleries, Sudley House, and the Museum of Liverpool (a researcher has been recruited for the latter). There will also be a busy programme of activity around this work, from new interpretation through to online information aimed at the museum profession. As well as undertaking the research and cataloguing, the post-holder will support other aspects of the project’s delivery. Our partners in the project include Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, and Liverpool-based arts and social justice organisation, Homotopia.

Required Skills

With an appropriate university degree, you will have excellent research, outward facing communication and organisational skills, and demonstrate a sensitivity to, and understanding of, LGBT heritage, culture and identity.

To apply please visit the jobs page

A Practical Networking Event for Industrial Heritage Museums and Groups in the North West: Care of large working objects

9th July 2015, 10am-3.15pm

Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Ulverston

Places are still available on this training day looking at caring for large working objects. The day includes a site tour of Stott Park Bobbin Mill. Speakers are:

  • Chris Smyth, ABTEM – update on the scoping study to review the MGC Standards for the Museum Care of Larger & Working Objects
  • Ian Bapty, Industrial Heritage Support Officer, Historic England – caring for large working objects

To book a place click here

Job Opportunities: Manchester Jewish Museum

As part of their HLF redevelopment project, Manchester Jewish Museum are currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • Operations Manager
  • Learning Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Business Plan Consultant

Further details can be found at

PSI: Picture Seen Investigation! How the EU Public Sector Information Directive and changes to copyright law are affecting museums  

Lancashire Conservation Studios
Tuesday 29th September
13:00 – 16:45

In 2013, the EU PSI Directive was extended to cover public museums, libraries and archives in the UK and this comes into force in July 2015. The Directive means that under certain circumstances some museums will be required to make some information available to other users for re-use. In October 2014 copyright law changed to make it easier for cultural institutions to use, share and preserve their collections. Join experts in their field for an update on what these changes mean for museums in practice.

13:00           Introduction and welcome, MDNW

13:10           Implications for museums of the EU Public Sector Information Directive, Howard Davies, Standards Manager,National Archives

14:45           Tea break

15:00           How recent changes to the copyright laws are affecting museum practice, Naomi Korn, IP Consultant

16:10           Case study – image licensing at Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster, Richard Smith, Curator

16:30           Q&A and final thoughts

16:45        Close

To book a place please visit our eventbrite page

Chance to inform a new ACE self-evaluation framework: 5 min survey

Make Culture Work have been contracted by the Arts Council to consult with the sector to improve the self-evaluation framework available on their website.  The Arts Council wants the framework to be genuinely useful to organisations and individuals in identifying how they might improve and measure their own progress.

They have held three consultation events and received invaluable feedback on why and how people self-evaluate.  To find out more about our research, visit the blog at

They’d now be very grateful for your input to build on this learning through completing this short survey (no more than 5 mins to complete):

They have previously held Make Culture Work events to begin a conversation about better evaluation across the cultural sector and are viewing this work as an opportunity to do more in this area and involve more people.  This is about what is genuinely useful to the sector, and it provides the opportunity for a bit of join up, which they hope you will be a part of.

They will re-write the framework as a result of this work with a new tool planned for early autumn, so your contributions will go directly into that process.

AIM Conference 2015 feedback and links

The team attended the excellent AIM Conference last week in Bristol. It was themed around Resilience and contained some very useful links, resources and information.

Here’s our selection of them:

Advocacy and impact

The AIM Advocacy Toolkit has now been expanded to cover social, health and wellbeing impacts and allows the museum to map itself against funders’ outcomes and quantify its own contribution. Some tips from Jonathan Durnin, the toolkit’s author are

  • Use case studies and personal testimonies – verbatim not edited or retrofitted
  • Don’t overclaim – look at the counterfactual ‘what would have happened without the project/museum’
  • It’s important to count in-kind volunteer time – use the Living Wage rate of £58.88 a day and evidence it with timesheets
  • If possible, link your outcomes with publicly available evidence in the same area – eg there is now a good range of evaluation on Dementia

You can access the toolkit here

The much used Economic Impact Toolkit has been revised in 2014 with updated tourism spend metrics, and more detailed geographic assumptions for day visits.

National Museum Directors’ Council has a range of advocacy resources useful for lobbying MPs

And runs the campaign  ilovemuseums – a great tool for looking at impact beyond visitor numbers

Economic impact of tourism

The Association of Large Visitor Attractions (ALVA) represents mostly larger attractions but also collects useful data about the impact and importance of the tourism sector.

Tourism is worth £127m to the UK economy andcreates 1 in 3 jobs. A new job is created in tourism every 8 minutes.

The most valuable inbound visitor market at the moment is USA visitors – although recent changes to the visa system for Chinese visitors could well change that. Most popular activities for tourists are: 1. Parks and Gardens and 2. Visiting museums

The tourism spend is worth £9bn to the North West economy.

More data here


Judy Niner emphasised the role of trustees in making an organisation ‘ fit to fundraise’.

Support and develop your individual trustees’ skills and knowledge and above all, make them understand the compelling rationale and core purpose of your museum or project.

Visitors and their experiences

AIM’s Visitor Verdict is now used by 80 museums nationally, allows you to benchmark yourself against others anytime online and is on offer for AIM members with an Early Bird rate until September.

ALVA reported on what makes success based on visitor feedback. It’s important to

  • Refresh and Entice – an up to date and fresh display, with an intriguing and enticing offer
  • Give an authentic sense of place – a different experience from the generic high street
  • Tell people’s stories – visitors’ best memories are of people, stories and staff rather than objects
  • Welcome and say goodbye – likelihood to recommend the venue goes from 22% to 74% if the visitor has had a good welcome experience and a ‘good bye and thank you’

Visitors become your partners; some great models of co-production from Derby Silk Mill, Ely Museum and Battersea Arts Centre’s ‘Scratch’ process – being rolled out to the sector as the Creative Museums project.

And finally,

Visitors and your café – Chris Turpin of Turpin Smale

Is your café good enough to feature on this blog? Lots of ideas…

Are you listed on ifootpath or similar walkers’ sites?

Are you dog friendly?

Have you got a Cuddle at your counter?

Are you considering providing charging technology for your visitors?

and a step beyond the wooden spoon with a number on it…


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