Museum Development – The National Picture

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By Annette French, Regional Museum Development Manager, 
SHARE Museums East



The National Museum Development Network’s annual one day conference, sponsored by AIM, was a great opportunity to hear some case studies on resilience themed programmes from other regional teams. Being new to my role in the region this was a valuable networking event, meeting colleagues in the wider national museum development network and making contact with potential partners.

From the range of delegates it’s clear that Museum Development Officers work in a variety of funding and organisational contexts.  It’s a dispersed and diverse picture and the different regional models can be a challenge to working strategically at a national level. The conference highlighted a range of potential partners looking to make contact with museum development providers and we reflected on how the opportunities to use existing local and regional networks and adapt national programmes to local need were sometimes missed.

The Museum Development Network has developed as a national forum to enable the sharing of skills, experience and resources across diverse boundaries and contexts. Increasingly there is a recognised need to develop better advocacy and achieve a stronger voice nationally for museum development to reach funders and stakeholders. To support the longer term resilience of museum development a planned governance review of the network was proposed.  As part of a light touch skills audit workshop we were able to see a simple overview of some of our main skills areas and identify common CPD needs. This simple exercise generated lots of discussion with new ideas for skills sharing, mentoring and partnership working.

A series of brief presentations outlined opportunities for national support with links to museum development programmes.  Many of these have led from successful applications to the Arts Council’s Museum Resilience Fund and the conference provided a forum through which external partners and funders were able to make contact with Museum Development professionals across the country.  Museum Development in our region, through SHARE Museums East working in partnership with the county based MDO’s, is well placed to help match up opportunities by inviting museums to participate and help with national programmes, to identify case studies and to promote and share training and resources. The SHARE monthly e-bulletin is one of the key ways we can help signpost these opportunities to you so please do distribute widely to your own networks and encourage others in your organisations to sign up too.

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