Sustainable Improvement Fund 2017

We are pleased to announce that the next round of our Sustainable Improvement Fund is now open. The Fund is a major part of the Museum Development North West Programme (MDNW). This Programme embraces the Arts Council’s five strategic goals set out in Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone to drive development and deliver sustainability, resilience and innovation in museums in the North West.

North West Accredited museums can bid to the Sustainable Improvement Fund to experiment and trial new ideas to strengthen sustainability and resilience. The Fund can help you develop new ways of working, partnerships and business models. It can provide funding for simple projects that can make a big difference in what you do or how you do things; or for more ambitious projects where you want to explore or test ideas in order to develop more substantial funding bids from other sources.

The Fund reflects the North West’s commitment to partnership working: it supports museums to continue to work together, and to develop creative relationships with cultural organisations, as well as with a wide range of external partners.

Applicants must submit an expression of interest form before submitting the full application, and you are strongly advised to contact one of the MDNW team before submitting and expression of interest. Deadlines for the 2017-18 programme and other details are outlined in the guidance document below.




From Art Fund:

Since the programme launched in 2012 we have helped 247 curators, scholars and researchers with 225 projects, and as you may know, last year the pot of funding increased by 50%, so we now have £75,000 to offer annually.

The scheme is open to curators and other professionals working with public collections, and through it we aim to help individuals realise their curatorial ambitions, through offering grants for collections-based research and curatorial development opportunities. Full details on the programme and some of the awards we have already made can be found on our website.

We can accept applications under £1,500 at any point throughout the year, while applications above this level are considered at committee meetings three times a year. The deadlines for these are as follows

Application deadline

Date of meeting

27th February 2017

27 March 2017

2nd May 2017

6th June 2017

25th September 2017

30th October 2017

If anyone would like to talk about their research ambitions and discuss potential projects, we encourage them to get in touch with us at or on 0207 225 4822.


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Art Fund Curators’ Survey

From Art Fund:

Can you help with research into the changing nature of museum and gallery curatorship?

Art Fund is investigating this vitally important topic with The Museum Consultancy and Oxford University.

They have designed an online survey to seek the views of those who work as a curator, or whose role encompasses curatorial responsibilities. The survey should take around ten minutes to complete.

Go to to take part. The deadline for responses is Monday 30th January.

The results of this survey will be supported by a series of in-depth interviews with curatorial and sector colleagues across the UK, and a review of previous reports and initiatives to support curatorial and collections-based work, to present a detailed picture of the challenges and opportunities that face curators and curatorship today, and to make some suggestions for the future. Art Fund will publish their findings later this year. They hope that the outcomes will also help inform future Art Fund policy and funding programmes, and provide similar inspiration across the sector.

If you want to discuss any aspect of the Art Fund research in more detail, please contact Sarah Philp, Art Fund Director of Programmes –

Job Opportunity: Victoria Baths, Manchester

Victoria Baths Trust seek an Administrative Assistant (Maternity cover up to one year)
Salary £14,127 (pro rata of full-time salary of £16,481)
30 hours per week

Victoria Baths, Manchester is an historic swimming pool which the Trust aims to restore. Meanwhile, it operates as a heritage visitor centre, events, arts and weddings venue.

This is a temporary Administrative Assistant position for up to 12 months to cover maternity leave, starting on 6th March 2017. The post holder will provide comprehensive administrative support to the Victoria Baths’ management and staff team and the role covers a variety of duties.

You will need to have excellent organisational, communication and Microsoft Office skills, with the ability to work independently, maintaining accurate administrative systems.

The job description, person specification and application form are available on the Victoria Baths website in the Restoration section, including details of how to apply:

Closing date: Wednesday 1st February 2017, 5.00 pm
Interviews: Monday 13th February 2017

Freelance Opportunity: Lakeland Arts

Support for the learning and engagement programme Creative practitioner brief 2017

Lakeland Arts is one of the leading Arts organisations in the North West, managing Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museums of Lakeland Life & Industry in Kendal, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House and is developing the Windermere Jetty- Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories.

Lakeland Arts (LA) is seeking to contract creative practitioners to support the delivery of the learning and engagement programme at Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry (MOLLI), Kendal, in 2017 to develop our family audience. We are seeking proposals from experienced creative practitioners to work in our venues to deliver high quality art activities, primarily for children and families, but also with general visitors.

Lakeland Arts is interested in working with a range of creative practitioners from different disciplines including art, craft, theatre, dance, music, storytelling and digital / creative media who take inspiration from art and museum collections as basis for their work. We also welcome submissions from artists from Protected Characteristic groups. As a creative practitioner, this is your opportunity to work with a world class art collection with work by George Romney, John Ruskin, JMW Turner and Bridget Riley and an exhibition programme that includes art by David Hockney, Julian Cooper, Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake and Pauline Boty.

There are four engagement programmes that we are committed to delivering in 2017. These are numbered and outlined below. As a creative practitioner, you can bid for one or multiple programmes. You must be able to commit to all of the dates and times specified for the programme that you are bidding for as these will be advertised to the public in advance.

For more information and the full brief please click here

Job Opportunities: Science Museums Group

Senior Development Executive
National Railway Museum – York
Full time
circa £30,000 per annum

Are you pro-active and target driven? Do you have the ability to think creatively and work proactively?

We are looking for a talented and experienced Senior Development Executive to join us at the National Railway Museum and support the delivery of our ambitious capital campaign to redevelop the Great Hall. This is the first phase of the Museum Masterplan strategy.

You will have experience securing six and seven figure trust donations for capital projects, including Heritage Lottery Fund.

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are key to your success along with the ability to organise, manage and prioritise a busy and changing work load.

This is a fixed term role until April 2020.

For more information visit the job page.

Development Executive – Trusts, Foundations & Government
Based at either Museum of Science and Industry – Manchester or National Media Museum, Bradford
Full time
£20,000 – £24,000 per annum

Are you passionate about fundraising and have the ability to think creatively and work proactively?

We are looking for a talented Development Executive to support bids and fundraising for our ambitious Masterplan projects at the National Media Museum (Bradford) and the Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester). You will be responsible for writing applications, producing reporting and identifying prospects. You may be based in Manchester or Bradford.

You’ll need experience in Trusts and Foundation fundraising and account management along with excellent writing skills and the ability to translate complex information into compelling narrative form.

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are key to your success along with the ability to organise, manage and prioritise a busy and changing work load.

This role will be offered on a fixed-term contract to April 2020.

Closing date 5th February 2017

For more information visit the job page.

MUPI Match North West: Museum & University Partnership Initative

Museum Development North West

Manchester Museum
Register for this event
Friday 17th February 2017

10:00am to 5:00pm

Kanaris Lecture Theatre, Manchester Museum, Manchester (see here for a map and directions)

Would you like to get involved in a museum and university partnership? Are you based in the North West and keen to meet museums and academics in your region to network and develop new ideas? Then why not take part in a MUPI Match event…

It is well proven that there are mutual benefits to museums and universities working together. Projects can cover a wide range of topics – from improving audience understanding to developing more effective collections knowledge or interpretation; from inspiring museum audiences with cutting edge research to developing new exhibits and exhibitions; the opportunities are endless.

However finding a partner, and having resources to explore how you might work together can be challenging. The MUPI Match events are based on tried and…

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Collecting Life: a Refugee’s Life Jacket from Lesvos – I

Thematic Collecting

Lesvos beach

A beach on the south east coast of Lesvos looking towards Mytilene

The prospect of visiting a Greek island is always an enticing one but arguably less so during the winter, and certainly not flying in low over the raging Aegean in a twin propellor aircraft, pitching and rolling and buffeted by strong winds, surrounded by fellow passengers crossing themselves. I was landing on the island of Lesvos.   My wife Christine and I had been on holiday to the island five years earlier, but that was before the refugee crisis in 2015 when literally hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq crossed the short stretch of water that separates Lesvos from Turkey.

My visit to Lesvos in December 2016 was part of Manchester Museum’s thematic collecting or collecting for life project.  Earlier in the autumn the Collections Team curators met the director, Nick Merriman, and reframed the project so that it focused more…

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Arts Council England To Review Museum Accreditation Scheme

Arts Council England announced this week that they will be undertaking a light touch review of certain aspects of the Museum Accreditation scheme in 2017. The scheme, which launched in 1988, helps museums secure long-term public access to sustainable collections by promoting shared standards in how they are run, how they manage their collections and the experiences of users. To allow Arts Council England to focus on the review, there will be a revision of the Accreditation submission schedule in England for 2017.

This includes prioritising: new applications, responses to museums experiencing significant change, provisional Accreditation reviews and those who have already applied. Museums in England due to reapply for Accreditation in 2017, will now remain part of the scheme for an additional 12 months. These museums will then reapply in 2018. This will not affect any applications to Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation. Reviewing the Museum Accreditation scheme and how it will affect your museum

Free Places for V&A Symposiums

The V&A are offering free places to museum colleagues from across the country to attend two symposiums in the next few months:

The Many Careers of John Lockwood Kipling
Saturday 25 February, 14:00-17:15

This event explores the many careers of John Lockwood Kipling: designer, illustrator, journalist, art school teacher and museum director.

Supported by the Kipling Society

This conference, timed to coincide with the exhibition at the V&A, will explore the international contexts of Kipling’s work and his legacy today. For more information, please contact Supported by the Kipling Society

Garnitures: Vases in Interiors
Friday 17 March, 10.00-17.15

This international symposium explores the phenomenon of garnitures or matching sets of vases and the way in which they are used in the European interior. Displayed above chimneypieces, cabinets and cupboards or over doorways, they embellished or ‘garnished’ the interior and enhanced the status of the owner

To book a free place please contact Matilda Pye at or 02079422205

Old Collections, New Questions Roman Study Day

Hospitium, York Museum Gardens
Friday 24
th February 2017
10:00 – 16:00

The Study Day will be a gathering of museum professionals, scholars, researchers, and enthusiasts to launch YMT’s ‘Old Collections, New Questions’ research project, an Arts Council England supported initiative to reinvestigate the Roman collections held by York Museums Trust.  These numismatic and archaeological collections have Designated status, meaning that they have national and international significance.

This project seeks to investigate what new information modern research interests, methods, and values can reveal about these collections.  The research produced will allow York Museums Trust to use these long-standing collections in new, innovative, and engaging ways, ensuring that their full potential is met.

The Study Day will introduce attendees to the Roman collections, highlight their research potential, and explore the avenues offered by modern research approaches.  The resulting discussions will steer the course of the project, allowing YMT curators to set short-term and long-term research goals, and giving researchers the opportunity to further their own expertise.

You can register to attend here and places are limited, so please let us know if your plans to attend change.