Museum Resilience: Where do we go from here?

Today’s blog has been written by David Holgate-Carruthers, a Teaching Museum Trainee with Norfolk Museums Service. David has worked on a range of successful community history projects at the Museum of Norwich since April 2017 and attended the SHARE Conference in Bedford this November.

How do we respond to adversity? In the face of change, who do we want to become? And when so much is being cut back, what do we feel is essential to hold on to?

These were the kinds of questions being asked at this year’s annual SHARE conference. It was hosted in Bedford, split across three amazing heritage sites: The John Bunyan Museum and Free Church, The Panacea Museum, and The Higgins Bedford. They sit together in a rough triangle; a huddle of historic buildings rich with culture and story. Delegates had the opportunity to visit all three. They explored the headquarters of a unique religious community, followed in the footsteps of the author of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and lost themselves in the beautiful collections begun by brewer, politician and local mayor Cecil Higgins during the 1800s.

The Bunyan Church, Bedford

The main event, held in the meeting hall of the Bunyan church, saw delegates gathered to hear speakers from across the museum sector addressing a wide range of topics. It was a busy day with a high turnout, where all of those gathered had a lot to discuss.

Norfolk Museum Service’s Teaching Museum trainees were invited to be a part of running the day, giving us the opportunity to see behind the scenes as we helped to set up and deliver the conference. Our traineeships have given us a very wide scope of experience, but I had never before been involved with the delivery of such a large event. There’s an impressive amount of very careful planning and a whole host of logistical questions that I would have never even thought of. Working with the SHARE team has been an invaluable part of this year, providing me with a lot of working knowledge to carry forwards. Thinking about that point at the end of this traineeship, it’s an interesting time to be setting out into the culture and heritage industry.

It’s no great secret that, all across the country, many services are struggling. Museums are no different and the themes of this year’s conference reflected that. The focus was on change, how to navigate it, and how to ensure resilience.

The Panacea Museum, Bedford

The Museum Association 2017 report writes that ‘64 museums in the UK have closed since 2010 [and that] the majority of closures are the result of reduced public funding’ with a ‘31% real-terms cut in local authority funding since 2010’ for museums in England and a similar story for those in devolved nations.

Against this backdrop, amidst cuts and the politics of austerity, you would be forgiven for imagining that the atmosphere of this conference was bleak, bearing grim tidings. There were certainly plenty of stark, striking statistics, but the voices that filled the hall weren’t despondent.

Speakers told of experiences at both a micro and macro level, where stories of individual responses to challenges stood alongside broader questions of strategy and ambition. The first keynote speaker, Julia Kaufmann, raised the issue of how change requires careful balance between internal and external influences, asking to what extent we try to anticipate change and to what extent any adaptation is reactive. With each successive speaker, we heard interesting, varied takes on the same key question: What should the museums of the future look like?

Megan Dennis, Museums Change Lives

For me, Megan Dennis’ focus on the MA campaign Museums Change Lives was particularly inspiring; at a time when the future seems increasingly uncertain, having an awareness of our past is all the more important for people. Engagement can strengthen bonds and ensure that people feel rooted, and we are in a unique position in museums to have a tangible, positive effect on wellbeing within communities.

It would also be unforgiveable not to mention Bernard Donoghue’s closing keynote speech, exploring the shape of excellence in visitor attractions and reminding us all of the importance of sex, death, gin and chocolate. I came away from the day driven, not defeated, full of ideas and ambition, knowing that resilience doesn’t equal inflexibility. It doesn’t mean hunkering down, or weathering out the storm, but is the strength and tenacity to adapt and to constantly question. If you couldn’t make it to this year’s conference, I’d definitely recommend that you get yourself to the next.

The unforgettable Bernard Donoghue

Images from the 2017 SHARE Conference

Below are photographs from the SHARE Conference that took place at Bunyan Meeting Church, Bedford on 6th November 2017. If you wish to use any of these images, please credit SHARE Museums East / Norfolk Museums Service.

If you would like a copy of any of these images in a higher resolution, please contact joseph.hoyle@norfolk.gov.uk.

What on earth is GDPR and how does it affect you?

This blog is brought to you by Eleanor Root, the Museum Development Officer for Essex, who attended the SHARED Enterprise Data Savvy Fundraising event at Ipswich Museum on 18th October. Although the Association of Independent Museums will be publishing further GDPR guidance shortly, Eleanor wanted to share a few tips to get you thinking about the changes you might need to make before the new legislation comes into force on May 25 2018.

First, the lingo…

Glossary:

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation, legislation for how we process and store data about people

PECR – Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, additional governance for electronic communications including emails, text and mobile phone calls

Data Subject – the person who the data is about

Data Controller – the individual or organisation that is in control of who processes data and why the data is processed (e.g. trustees, museum employees)

Data Processor – the individual or organisations tasked with processing the data on behalf of the Data Controller (this would exclude museum employees but includes volunteers)

Personal Data – defined as “Any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.” This means data or combinations of data from which a person (not organisation) can be identified

Sensitive Personal Data – this is personal data, which relates to an individual’s race/ethnicity, religious beliefs, political opinions, mental/physical health, sex life, criminal history and trade union membership

ICO – Information Commissioner’s Officer, the UK’s independent data protection regulator

How will it affect you?

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into place on May 25 2018 with no transition period. This legislation protects all kinds of personal and sensitive personal data and has been adopted by the UK through the Data Protection Bill so will not be effected by Brexit.

This means that all data you hold about people will have to meet this new standard or be deleted. BUT don’t panic! With a few straightforward steps you will be able to meet this new standard.

What’s it all about?

If you hold data about a person they have the right to know what data you have, access the data, rectify incorrect data, delete all data about themselves, restrict your use of their data, obtain and reuse data and refuse consent to use their data.

The key principles are that data should be:

  1. Accurate and kept up to date
  2. Kept for no longer than is necessary for the purpose it was collected
  3. Processed in a way that ensures appropriate security

The Data Controller (i.e. your museum) is responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met. In order to demonstrate that you are meeting the requirements of GDPR you must:

  1. Implement appropriate measures to ensure you comply with legislation
  2. Keep a record of how you’ve processed data
  3. If appropriate, appoint a person responsible for ensuring compliance (only appropriate for larger organisation)

There are different legal conditions that allow organisations to hold and process personal data but the main two that apply to museums are consent and legitimate interest.

Consent

Consent means that the person has explicitly agreed to you holding their data and using it for specific purposes. Consent has to be used to emails, text messages, mobile phone calls, house phone calls if the person is listed on the Telephone Preference Service and for processing sensitive personal data (see glossary).

Consent must be:

  1. freely given (you can’t offer incentives or force someone)
  2. specific to how you plan to use their data
  3. informed
  4. unambiguous
  5. clear, affirmative action (i.e. you can’t use ‘opt out’ options)
  6. demonstrable (you must be able to prove that the person gave their consent if asked)

Consent doesn’t necessarily last for forever and should be refreshed at appropriate intervals. The GDPR doesn’t give an exact time frame, but every 24 months is recommended. Consent expires when the purpose for which you collected the data ends. For example if you hold someone’s details because they’re a volunteer, when they stop volunteering you must delete the data, unless you request permission to keep the data for another reason.

Example consent form:Example consent

(From ‘A practical guide to lawful fundraising for arts and cultural organisations’, June 2017, by BWB and ACE. Click here to access the full document.)

Data you have previously collected must meet this new standard. If it does not, you can ask for consent or you must delete this data. There is no such thing as implied consent.

Legitimate Interest

Please note that any local authority or university museums cannot use Legitimate Interest as a reason for holding personal data. This is explicitly banned in the GDPR.

Organisations that are not managed by a local authority or university can use Legitimate Interest to justify handling data without consent when the data processing is ‘necessary’ for the legitimate interest of the data controller (i.e. the museum). Your organisation has a necessary legitimate interest when using the data achieves an organisational objective (this is vague and will probably be tested in court).

Before you use Legitimate Interest you must ask yourself:

  1. Why this activity is important?
  2. Is processing the data is the only way of achieving your ‘necessary’ objective?
  3. If processing the data isn’t the only way to achieve the objective, why do you believe that handling the data is the most appropriate approach?

Whether or not you can use Legitimate Interest depends on the ‘reasonable expectation’ of the individual when they gave you the data. You must consider:

  1. What is the direct impact on the individual?
  2. Are the consequences for the individual positive?
  3. Is there a link between the original purpose that the data was given and how you want to use the data?
  4. What kind of data is being processed?
  5. Could your use of the data be considered obtrusive?

For example, if someone agreed to give you their address when they donated an object they might expect that you would contact them to ask a question about the object but they might not expect you to post them leaflets about all your museum events.

People can opt out of allowing you to use their data for legitimate interest.

You cannot use Legitimate Interest to contact people via email, text message or mobile phone call as this is governed by the PECR legislation. You can use Legitimate Interest to contact people by post or home phone call (provided their number isn’t listed on the Telephone Preference Service).

Privacy Policies

If you haven’t told someone how you’re going to use their data, you probably can’t use it. Your privacy policy sets out how you will use their data. A privacy policy should include:

  1. Who you are (identity and contact details of Data Controller)
  2. Why you want their data
  3. The legal basis for processing the data
  4. Who the data will be shared with
  5. How long the data will be held
  6. The person’s rights
  7. The right to withdraw consent
  8. The right to complain to the ICO
  9. The source of the data (if it’s not being provided by the person)
  10. Any automised data handling (for example wealth screening for fundraising purposes)

This is a lot of information for a person to take in! You might give this information at the point of consent being given, and it could be a link from your consent form (if you’re doing it online). This would look something like this:

privacy statement

(From ‘A practical guide to lawful fundraising for arts and cultural organisations’, June 2017, by BWB and ACE. Click here to access the full document.)

You can see examples of good and bad privacy policies if you click here.

What do you need to do?

  1. Don’t ignore it!
  2. Don’t work alone – make sure your whole team is on board
  3. Do audit your use of data
  4. Do write or review your privacy policy
  5. Do keep a record of your decisions

Need more information?

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/privacy-notices-transparency-and-control/privacy-notices-in-practice/

http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/A%20Practical%20Guide%20to%20Lawful%20Fundraising.pdf – practical examples of consent and privacy policies

https://2040infolawblog.com/

 

Just a little bit of History repeating

Today’s blog is written by Phoebe Wingate, a trainee on Norfolk Museums Service ‘Teaching Museum‘ scheme. 

My relationship with History as a subject is a rather turbulent story.  At Middle School I had a fantastic teacher by the name of Mr Holzer. His lessons were full of story-telling and as a class we always hoped for a chance to use the giant dressing-up basket in the corner of the room. Continuing this inspirational introduction was a Scottish historian and I, at age 14, imagined he spent his spare time roaming the Highlands, fully kilted and blue of face. These early engaging characters were a tough act to follow though and at High School I feel out of love with the subject; lost in dry facts and dates that refused to be anchored to events.

So how on earth did I find myself, over 20 years later, on a traineeship with Norfolk Museums? Public engagement has always been at the core of my work but it had never occurred to me to work in museums due to my scientific background. Several months ago a number of friends and family pointed out the teaching museum programme and encouraged by their support I applied. Now 4 months into the training, I still feel incredibly lucky. It is hard work and full-on but I get to be involved in amazing projects and gain experience with a fantastic team.

One of our recent training days saw us exploring some of the independent museums in the county: first stop, the Museum of the Broads. Here we met with museum curator, Nicola Hems, who talked about the history of the site, as well as the trials and tribulations of being a small independent museum. As we chatted her volunteers were desperately working on the most prized item in their collection; a Victorian steam boat called ‘Falcon’. The BBC were due the following day to film Timothy West and Prunella Scales aboard as part of the series Great Canal journeys – at the time ‘Falcon’ was producing dubious splutters.

Trainees with MoB curator, Nicola, Regional Museums Development Manager, Jamie Everitt and Teaching Museum Manager, Sarah Gore at the Museum of the Broads.

The collections on display in this picturesque museum tell the story of life on the Broads; including Viking marauders, boat builders and holidaymakers. It houses boats of all sorts, from a strict interpretation such as racing yachts to more nutty waterborne inventions. The museum also boasts an engaging display of boat toilets…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top left; ‘Nutty Slack’, a water bicycle used in recovery of bodies from the river. Top right; Steam boat ‘Falcon’ getting some TLC from the MoB vols. 

As we were leaving to the more encouraging sounds of a putt-putting steam boat, we wove our way Northwest to meet Philip Miles, the manager of Sheringham Museum. The building, found nestled in the cliff face, is home to several lifeboats as well as collections that focus on the local fishing industry and townspeople. The temporary exhibition of Gansey patterns installed throughout the museum adds another dimension and has been well received, pulling in audiences from as far as Japan. As Philip took us through the rollercoaster experience of making this museum a success, we all picked up on his passion and his team’s efforts.

The Dutch Gansey exhibition features over 60 different patterns as well as few of Sheringham’s own.

The final visit on our tour was to Fakenham Gas and Local History Museum where we were greeted by the enigmatic Harry. Solely run by volunteers, the museum is housed in the only complete town gasworks in the country, and is a treasure trove for engineer enthusiasts.

Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local Life

These museums are incredibly different; a relic of the industrial revolution; a reflection on past and present holiday industries; a reveal of the fishing heritage and courageous lifeboat men. But they also share a common ground; they all have a team of dedicated, passionate people (a theme that crops up time and time again). The more I come to learn of museums, the more I am reminded of those characters who engaged me all those years ago.

Remembering Katrina Siliprandi

We bring you today’s blog with a heavy heart. Saddened by the news of the death of  Katrina Siliprandi last week, SHARE’s Kathy Moore, a dear friend of Katrina, writes:  

Many of you will be aware of Katrina’s pioneering work in Museum Learning as Head of Learning at Norfolk Museums Service for many years. She was hugely important for NMS as an organisation but also for many individuals whom she mentored, inspired, and encouraged. She gave me my first job in museums and had been my touchstone ever since.

Katrina and I at a SHARE event

She was passionate about all museums, large and small, about their collections as a foundation for fantastic learning and life-changing experiences. She was dedicated to improving Access and Inclusion in museums and worked regularly with looked after children, young offenders and many other minority groups.

Katrina with Cathy Terry, Senior Curator at Strangers Hall

After her early retirement from NMS on health grounds a few years ago, she recovered enough and was enthusiastic to deliver SHARE training on Reaching Different Audiences, Learning from Objects and Reflective Learning Practice.

Katrina at her leaving do, Norwich Castle

She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just over a year ago and initially thought she had only weeks left to live. As you would expect, if you’d known her well, she fought hard to have as long as possible with her family, including young grandchildren. She always had time for her friends too and many kept in touch and visited her during this last year, keeping her up to date with what was happening in the museum world. She wanted to know all the news from NMS, SHARE, GEM etc.

One of Katrina’s favourite projects saw the production of this short film. Just like Katrina, it highlights the values of thought-provoking and interesting learning alongside barrels of fun!

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SNxvNcyCSo[/youtube]

 

Her early death is a huge loss to her family, friends and the museum profession as a whole.

Katrina in action at the Scott Polar Research Institute

 

Visual Merchandising: A Thank you from Bawdsey

Today’s update is brought to you by Elizabeth Brooking from Bawdsey Radar Museum. Liz is a trustee, shop volunteer and ex-teacher, with no prior retail experience. Liz recently attended one of our Retail Forum events at Chelmsford Museum on visual merchandising.

Both Hilary and I from Bawdsey Radar would like to thank SHARE for the really useful Retail Forum day that we attended. As we are embarking into the unknown it is so helpful to have the advice from your specialists, as well as time to network with others to get their experiences.  Others’ practical advice is very useful.

RAF Bawdsey – the first fully operational radar station in the world

 

We launched our new website – www.bawdseyradar.org.uk  – last weekend, where there is a mention of the new shop.

Bawdsey’s exciting new retail offer. Coming soon…

Staff at Bawdsey will be putting into practice what they have learned through SHARE, and we look forward to seeing their merchandising and retail offer. 

 

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