Tagged: Collections

How to Run a Collections 2030 Discussion Session

The Museums Association (MA) has published guidance notes for museum professionals who are interested in running a discussion session on its major new research project, Collections 2030.

The UK-wide project seeks to identify how to make the most of museum collections over the course of the next decade. The MA has produced a discussion paper and a series of research questions and is seeking responses from across the museum sector.

Groups of museum professionals are invited to hold discussion sessions to look at the research, debate the questions and develop a collective response that can be submitted to the project.

For those interested in running a session, tips include incorporating the discussion into an existing forum, meeting or group; inviting people with a wide range of experiences and job roles to participate; ensuring everyone is familiar with the research questions in advance; and nominating a note-taker to record key points. The full guidance notes are available to download below.

The MA’s policy officer Alistair Brown said: “The response to Collections 2030 so far has been fantastic. Museums across the country are engaging with the Collections 2030 debate and really thinking about how we can make our collections empowering, relevant and dynamic.”

“The new guidance that we’re publishing today will help people to have those discussions with colleagues and provide responses the consultation. Everyone in the sector – no matter what their official role is – has a view on issues from disposal to decolonisation, so we’re looking for input and ideas from teams, departments, AMA support groups, Subject Specialist Networks, Emerging Professional Groups and more. This is a consultation for the whole sector, so we want to hear from you.”

For more information visit the MA’s website.


Art Fund New Collecting Awards Now Open

This funding programme enables promising and ambitious curators to build critical professional skills by pursuing new avenues of collecting for their museums.

Applications for the fourth round of the scheme are now open.

The deadline to submit an expression of interest is 13 February 2018. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to present to the New Collecting Awards panel in late April 2018.


Through the New Collecting Awards programme we aim to support the next generation of curatorial leaders across the UK. The awards promote the value of research-led collecting and foster curatorial expertise at both individual and institutional levels, enriching museum practice long-term.

Offering 100% funding for focused collecting projects of the highest quality, the scheme enables curators to expand museum collections of fine art, design or visual culture into exciting new areas, or to deepen existing holdings in imaginative ways.

Each awardee also receives a generous funding allocation towards research, travel and training costs to facilitate their proposed collecting plans and professional development. Additionally, they are offered the ongoing support of a mentor, Art Fund staff and our trustees.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from curators who are either in the early stages of their career or have had limited opportunities to collect.

We expect applicants to be in full- or part-time employment at a fully or provisionally accredited museum or gallery. We will also consider applications from freelance curators or researchers, provided they can demonstrate that they will be officially affiliated with an accredited museum or gallery for the duration of the project and that their participation will have a longer-term institutional impact.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate why receiving a New Collecting Award would benefit not only their museum and its collections but also, crucially, their own professional development in a way that would not otherwise be possible.

How much can you apply for?

Typical grant awards fall between £50,000 and £80,000. Curators can apply for any amount but will be expected to demonstrate that the sum is reasonable and proportionate in relation to the types and number of works they propose to collect.

With generous support from the KMF Maxwell Stuart Charitable Trust, one award will be ringfenced for a curator working with a collection in a museum or gallery in Scotland.

The allocation for professional development is ringfenced at 10% of the total sum awarded.

Please note that we retain the right to award a reduced grant for either planned acquisitions or professional development at our own discretion.

Find out how to apply and read about the previous winners.

The New Collecting Awards are made possible by a number of generous individuals and trusts including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Ruddock Foundation of the Arts, the Headley Trust and the Vivmar Foundation.

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund Now Open

First round application deadline is 6th December

Initial applications to the 14th round of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which helps museums develop collections to achieve social impact, will be accepted by the Museums Association (MA) until the deadline of 6 September.

This round will see £600,000 of grants available for applications for funding from £20,000 to £120,000, for projects that will last up to three years.

In the first instance, applicants should call or email to discuss their idea with Sally Colvin, the MA’s programmes manager, or Sarah Briggs, the MA’s collections development officer.

Initial applications will be shortlisted by the end of September and informed whether or not they can proceed to a full application, which must be completed by 18 October. The successful applicants will be announced in early December.

Civilisations Festival

Register your interest with this exciting partnership between museums and galleries and the BBC

It is now nearly half a century since Kenneth Clark’s series Civilisation thrilled audiences with its authoritative interpretation of the glories of Western art. Inspired by that groundbreaking programme, the new series of Civilisations on BBC Two will introduce a new generation to the great masterworks of beauty, ingenuity and illumination created across the continents.

The Civilisations Festival will run alongside the series in Spring 2018. We are inviting museums, galleries and libraries to schedule events to spark debate, broaden understanding and share ideas about what is meant by the term civilisation.

The content of the events is up to your organisation. It could be a debate or a keynote speech, a performance or a hands-on workshop using an item from your collection as the starting point.

Branding will be supplied so that you can let your visitors know that the event is part of the Civilisations Festival. Curators and speakers could be invited as guests on the BBC’s programmes. In some cases, stations may decide to cover your event in an outside broadcast.

The festival runs from Friday 2 March to Friday 11 March. Register your organisation’s interest by emailing civilisations@bbc.co.uk.

Find out more at: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes.

Launch of Reference Collection Search Portal

From the University of York:

We are delighted to announce the launch of the ‘National Zooarchaeological Reference Resource’ (NZRR), a specimen-level search portal for vertebrate skeletal collections in the UK. If you’ve ever found yourself desperately emailing colleagues to find that elusive specimen of chamois, burbot, etc., then this may be the solution.

Funded by a grant from Historic England, the NZRR so far includes data from 10 university zooarchaeology labs, 5 museums, one charitable trust, one private collection, and Historic England’s own zooarchaeology lab. We are expecting to add several additional collections in the near future, and welcome further submissions.

The resource is hosted by the Archaeology Data Service and is now live here.

Please take a look, try out some queries, and let us know what you think. Comments on the search interface are particularly welcome: we’re still working on this and already have a list of improvements in the pipeline.

Larger and Working Objects Guidelines

Invitation for Contributions

The Association of British Transport and Engineering Museums (ABTEM) has appointed the International Railway Heritage Consultancy (IRHC) to work with them to produce new guidelines for museums and private collectors with larger and working objects. 

It is looking for contributors from the sector to support this Arts Council funded project. 

For further details please download the full invitation letter .

Unlocking the vault: making the most of scientific collections

Manchester Museum
Monday 26th & Tuesday 27th June

Science and natural history collections include objects, specimens, models and illustrations which  are a goldmine of useful information and inspiration. They are immensely popular with the public, but are often cared for by non-specialists who can perceive them as difficult to work with. There is a danger that these collections can be forgotten, underused and undervalued.

Join us for this one and a half day conference looking at the innovative ways in which collections are being used. Speakers from historic collections across Europe will be joining us to discuss best practise in the use of scientific and natural history collections. We will be exploring ways to connect people to collections for greatest impact. 

We have an interesting programme of talks from expert speakers in three sessions: ‘Connecting collections and breaking isolation’, ‘Reaching out to new audiences’ and ‘New meanings through art, history and research’. 

Dr. Tim Boon, Science Museum Group. Science Museum Group Research and the Interdisciplinary Culture of Collections’

Mark Carnall, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. ‘Not real, not worth it?’

Dr Caroline Cornish, Royal Holloway, University of London. ‘Useful or curious’? Reinventing Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany’

Jocelyn Dodd, University of Leicester.Encountering the Unexpected:  natural heritage collections & successful aging’

Prof. Dirk van Delft, Boerhaave Museum. ‘Real bones for teaching medicine

Dr. Martha Flemming, V&A Museum. Title TBC

Dr Petra Tjitske Kalshoven, The University of Manchester. ‘The manikin in taxidermy: modelling conceptions of nature’.

Henry McGhie, Manchester Museum. ‘Beyond ‘natural history’: museums for the 21st century’

Dr. Laurens de Rooy, Museum Vrolik, Medical and natural history collections as historical objects: a change of perspective?

Dr. Marjan Scharloo, Teylers Museum. Title TBC

Dr. Cornelia Weber, Coordination Centre for Scientific University Collections in Germany. ‘Back to the Roots: University Collections as Infrastructure for Research and Teaching

Prof. Yves Winkin, Musée des arts et métiers.  An amateur director, professional curators, and a desire for a cabinet of curiosities

To book a place please visit the Manchester Museum eventbrite page

The conference is part of the programming to support Object Lessons, our upcoming exhibition celebrating the scientific model and illustration collection of George Loudon. Each of these finely crafted objects was created for the purpose of understanding the natural world through education, demonstration and display. This exhibition combines Loudon’s collection with models from Manchester Museum and World Museum, Liverpool. The conference is generously supported by the Wellcome Collection.

ABTEM Larger & Working Objects Guidelines – Call For Interested Parties

The Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums (ABTEM) has recently appointed the International Railway Heritage Consultancy (IRHC) to work with them to produce new guidelines for museums and private collectors with larger and working objects. The guidelines will cover stationary engines, industrial machinery, road vehicles, aircraft, railway vehicles, ships, boats and other working items.

Standards first published by the former Museums & Galleries Commission have been used widely by specialists and non-specialists alike since they were first published in 1994, but after two decades of experience now need updating.

The project is supported by grant from the Arts Council England through their Museum Resilience funding stream that enables museums to become more sustainable.

We are looking for interested parties such as individual curators, conservators or staff from museums with large or working objects in their collections that would be able to feed into the process by either responding to questionnaire or submitting case studies that illustrate the decision-making process and conservation ethos of a particular treatment.

Selected case studies will be included in the new guidelines, available at the end of 2017.

The guidelines will be widely publicised and promoted, including through a programme of seminars scheduled between October 2017 and March 2018.

For further information contact Efstathios Tsolis, Associate Consultant, email tsolis@efstathios.co.uk, tel. +44 (0) 7726419551

For more information about ABTEM visit http://www.abtem.co.uk/
For more information about IRHC visit http://www.internationalrailheritage.com
For more information about ACE visit http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/

Society for Museum Archaeology: Museums Collecting Archaeology Report

(Are Museums Running out of Staff, Space and Time?)

For a number of years Historic England has supported the gathering of information on local authority staffing levels in planning and Historic Environment Record (HER) services but there has been no concomitant survey of museums, despite such institutions supporting archaeological project work through the curation of archive material.

The first of three annual reports commissioned by Historic England and produced by the Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA) has now been released, using quantitative and qualitative data gathered by online survey from 200 respondents in England that represent museums which collect or hold archaeological material.

The report is available to download from the SMA website here. Any questions or feedback relating to the report can be directed to the SMA via their website here.

Call for Papers for Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2017

From The National Archives and Research Libraries UK :

What: The Cultural Value of Collections and the Creative Economy
When: Monday, 27th – Wednesday, 29th November 2017
Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ
Website: www.dcdcconference.com   

The National Archives and Research Libraries UK are delighted to announce the call for papers for this year’s Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference to be held between 27 and 29 November 2017 at the Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester. 

The conference will bring together colleagues from across the heritage, library, and academic sectors, in a vibrant and inclusive setting. We will discuss ways of enhancing cross-sector collaboration, collectively seizing new opportunities, and facing joint challenges.

Call for Papers

In today’s uncertain political and economic climate the ability to demonstrate why heritage and culture matter – and to whom – has never been more important or relevant. The ways in which we gather, measure and present evidence of cultural value and impact has attracted increasing attention in recent years, as emphasis has led to a stronger focus on the experience of individuals and of communities.

Archives, libraries, museums and heritage organisations across the UK and further afield have played a leading role in this movement. They have actively looked to examine, capture and measure the wider social, cultural and economic impact of their collections, and to engage more effectively with a wider variety of audiences. Work in this area continues to evolve, as does the need for new and better ways of evidencing value and impact through continuing research and the effective sharing of experiences within and between sectors.

DCDC17 will consider how, by working collaboratively through networks of  inter and cross-disciplinary initiatives, we can continue to improve and develop methodologies in order to build a strong evidence base to demonstrate the  cultural value of collections and their contribution to the creative economy. 

The main conference themes will include, but are not limited to, the following:


DCDC welcomes proposals on collaborative projects involving library, archive, museum, heritage and cultural sectors in partnership with the academic sector, communities, education and funders.

 For 2017, we would particularly be interested on submissions within the following themes:

  • Heritage and the human experience: hidden voices, social cohesion, diversity and public wellbeing
  • The cultural landscape: heritage buildings, regeneration, and engaging audiences with real and imagined environments
  • Curative collections: understanding and reflecting voices in conflict, dissent, displacement, repatriation and recovery
  • New value in old things: opening up collections through original research, heritage science, the internet, and digital technology
  • Collections and enterprise: the challenges and opportunities of utilising collections for revenue generation, managing the relationship between culture and the corporate, and overcoming the hurdles of copyright
  • Innovative interpretations: presenting traditional collections to new audiences through art, design, and performance
  • Measuring value: Holistic value frameworks, benchmarking, cultural and academic partnerships, impact, and the REF
  • The politics of collections: advocacy for collections, funding, institutional and community support and investment.


The conference organisers invite abstracts for the delivery of 20-minute presentations. 10 minutes will be allowed for questions after each presentation.


The conference organisers also invite the submission of abstracts for panel proposals. Panels should include three 20-minute papers and include a named panel chair. They can be submitted on any pertinent topic within the conference theme and can include papers relating to an individual project, emerging initiative, or ‘state of the nation’ overview.

Workshops & roundtables

As part of DCDC17 the organisers also welcome proposals for:

Practical workshops on (but not limited to):

  • funding and sustainability
  • interactive projects
  • education & outreach
  • Roundtable sessions by professional networks & societies

All workshops should involve a high level of interactivity and/or training which should be clearly demonstrated in the abstract. 

Roundtable sessions should include no more than five speakers speaking for five minutes each. We encourage professional networks and societies to lead on these sessions discussing issues relevant to the conference theme.

Both workshops and roundtables should be open to all conference delegates and require no prior knowledge or preparation.

Submission format

All submissions should be presented in the following format in a word document as an email attachment:

  • Name, job title and organisation of speaker/s
  • Presentation/panel/seminar title
  • A summary of no more than 100 words (this will be printed in the conference programme)
  • A more detailed abstract of no more than 300 words
  • Any scheduling conflicts for speakers


All abstracts should be submitted to both Melanie Cheung (melanie.cheung@rluk.ac.uk) and Laura Tompkins (Laura.Tompkins@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk) by Sunday 30 April.

Any submissions received after the deadline will not be considered. 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact with the conference organisers.