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.

Objects too big to carry: Consultation

Objects too big to carry

Deborah Walton, Regional Conservation Officer, University of Cambridge Museums

Twenty one years ago the Museums and Galleries Commission (now defunct) published a series of documents about caring for Museum collections.  The fourth in this series Larger and Working Objects, looked at “anything too big to carry.…principally industrial and agricultural objects, excluding buildings.” Even in the context of museumsland, twenty years is a long time so the question of updating these guidelines arises.  To this end, the Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums (ABTEM) commissioned Rob Shorland-Ball to run a scoping exercise examining need and interest in the sector.  I recently attended the second of two Discussion Meetings on this topic at the recently redeveloped Museum of Steam and Water near Kew Bridge.

It was a very useful and interesting meeting, with participants ranging from local museums to nationals with a variety of staff and volunteer roles present.  SHARE Museums East was impressively well represented with four SHARE Heritage Engineering Network members present, and I think we all felt we had good opportunity to contribute to the lively discussion.  The conversation was wide ranging and stimulating; training in lost/dying skills, changes in mine lifting equipment regulations, recording of working practices were all touched on, even getting to the difficult topic of ‘what exactly qualifies as a larger or working object’ and the even more complicated, ‘are we including objects with built in obsolescence such as the Ford Mondeo and the computer in these guidelines’.  Under the heading of funding it was very pleasing to be able to explain the mechanisms and achievements of the SHARE programme and the idea of funding and contributions not having to be solely in cash form.

Consultation continues throughout June and anyone with an interest in large, working or static objects, either in a museum setting or a private owner, is invited to contact Rob Shorland-Ball to share any thoughts and suggestions they have on this matter.

The main questions are below, but any other related comments are also very welcome from all contributors.

  1. Feasibility and rationale for up-dating – do we need it?
  2. Format: hardcopy, e-publications (or both)
  3. Sources of funding for the necessary work
  4. Title and contents – Standards or Guidelines? What do we include?
  5. Will it be possible to share information on good practice / useful contacts / specialist expertise and or suppliers?
  6. Audience – who is this for? Should it try to embrace both museums and heritage centres / private and volunteer institutions / individual owners?

You can e-mail Rob directly at

And the winners are…

The winners of the 2015 SHARE Volunteer Awards for Museums in the East were announced on the 4th June at a special celebration evening at the Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds. We are delighted to share the full list of winners and those who were highly commended in their category.

Click here to find out more!

New Volunteer Coordinators’ Forum

In partnership with The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket and IWM Duxford, SHARE is developing a new forum for those who face the many issues presented by organising and managing a volunteer workforce.

The Volunteer Co-ordinators’ Forum will meet quarterly and its events will include a mix of national and local speakers, peer support and networking opportunities.

The forum will be officially launched on Thursday 2nd July at the National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket.

Click here find out more and to book your place.

Front of House Forum: Reaching & Engaging Audiences

Join the SHARE Front of House Forum on 11th June at Chelmsford Museum for an inspiring day exploring how museums can reach and engage their audiences.

With a keynote from John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Museums at Arts Council England, plus local and national speakers, it promises to be a lively and informative event. As always there will be plenty of time for networking and discussion of Front of House “hot topics”.

Click here to view the full programme and to book your place.

White gloves, SHARE courses and paint-stained jeans

In this guest blog, Dan Clarke (Skills for the Future Heritage Trainee) tells us how SHARE has helped with his work over the past year, and reflects on his traineeship as it draws to a close.

White gloves, SHARE courses and paint-stained jeans… 

By Dan Clarke, Skills for the Future Heritage Trainee,  Moyse’s Hall Museum, Suffolk

Looking back at day one of my placement, Monday 30th June 2014, it’s all a bit of a blur, except for the moment I was given my first pair of white cotton gloves. It sounds so insignificant and silly yet it was something I’d been waiting years for; the moment I started my first museum placement.

I’m one of four Heritage Trainees that has been on a year-long placement at Moyse’s Hall Museum, West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, the Records Office and the SCC Archaeological Service. Our year-long posts are funded by the HLF, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The placement has been vast in content. I’ve worked on collection care, social media output, exhibitions, workshops, events, displays, archiving at the Records Office, mapping geophysics at the SCC Archaeological Service and much more. One day you’re wearing smart/casual trousers for an event, the next you’re wearing paint stained jeans as you prepare a case for a new display; every day has offered a new experience and a change in dress-code. The main theme of my placement has been the digital aspect of museum work. You can follow my Social Media work for Moyse’s by clicking here and our Skills for the Future project can be followed here.

The symbiosis between SHARE courses and in-house experience has been invaluable. From the very first courses with Bob Entwistle in ‘Handling and Collections’ to ‘Digital Photography’ training with Sarah Holmes; SHARE has contributed immeasurably in our progression through Heritage and given us insights into what the digital era may bring. Techniques taught by Bob (we particularly loved his infamous acid-free paper wedges) were instantly required to change a display in a Gallery of Moyse’s Hall. The movement of priceless fragile Roman glass was a particularly stressful moment which was mitigated by our training.

In total we have attended more than fifteen SHARE courses and events in the last nine months. Each has offered unique insights into topics that have helped us to understand the plethora of different career paths in Heritage and the broad range of essential skills needed. We are grateful for all SHARE’s support.

It’s hard gaining employment in Heritage or Archaeology. We wanted to do something towards the end of our traineeships to help our generation, and the next, to understand opportunities in the sector, so we are putting on an event. Under the umbrella of the ‘Museums at Night Festival’ we are putting on ‘Museums at Night: The Future of History’; an informative and fun event that offers students, members of the public and heritage workers a chance to meet and seek career advice from senior museum workers and archaeologists. If you are near Moyse’s Hall Museum on 15th May 2015 at 6:30pm-8:30pm, why not join in and check us out?


From left to right: Ben Donnelly-Symes, Sarah Clark, Dan Clarke and Jack Everett. Picture by Alex McWhirter

 white gloves

The moment of truth… Picture by Dan Clarke

Dan Clarke


Dan Clarke: Graduated in 2011 with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and History. Experience in filming and writing. Volunteered at historical sites prior to current placement.


The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme is supporting heritage organisations across the UK to create new training places.  Grants range from £100,000 to £1million for a number of traineeships with an emphasis on high-quality work-based training.  The programme will help equip organisations to engage with the widest possible range of people and inspire them to get involved with heritage.  HLF has awarded a grant of £99,700 for the Bury St Edmunds project.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported over 35,000 projects, allocating more than £5.6 billion across the UK.  Website:  For more information please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on: 020 7591 6036/07973 613820

For further information Contact: Dan Clarke at Moyse’s Hall. 01284 706183. Email:

HLFWest Suffolk

Suffolk CC


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