Building Strong Museum Connections

Get the kettle on, because we’re coming to see you soon!

Museums Galleries Scotland is launching a new programme to engage more closely with the sector, which we’ve called Museum Connections. This programme will become a permanent part of MGS’s role going forwards. MGS staff, on a rotational basis, will be visiting all museums in person to hear about your successes and challenges. We’ll use this to ensure that MGS is producing support materials that are relevant to museums’ varying needs.

The need for this approach has been identified after research pinpointed groups of museums that have little contact with MGS. This research was based on the number of uses a particular organisation makes of certain MGS services… attending training; reading Connect; Accreditation; Recognition; taking part in Festival of Museums; grant applications etc, etc. Initially, the fact that there are some museums that don’t ask us for advice, don’t use our funding, and don’t even read our free emails was a little confusing… don’t they know that MGS is the National Development Body for the entire sector?! Then we realised: maybe they don’t. Perhaps non-Accredited museums don’t think we have anything for them? Yes, much of our funding is restricted to Accredited museums. However, we do offer funding to help non-Accredited museums undertake this process, and have lots of support materials and training courses that all museums can use, even those who cannot currently access our funding.

So we got our thinking caps on, and came up with Museum Connections, to engage better with Scotland’s diverse museums. This new approach offers an invaluable opportunity for communication, education and support between MGS and the entire sector. Regular contact with each museum will enable MGS to keep ourselves better informed about sector issues on the ground. We’ll identify trends as they develop and perhaps some pre-existing issues that we are not currently aware of. We’re looking forward to hearing about what museums have been up to, and any problems (or celebrations!) that we can help with. We’ll signpost to relevant MGS resources and take back anything for other members of our team to pick up. We’ll also take the time to make sure we have accurate information about each museum for our records and so we can better advocate on trends on behalf of the entire sector.

Museum Connections is not just a visit campaign…

…it is going to be an ongoing part of our work here at MGS. It’s not just our usual sector-facing staff that will be out-and-about either; each of our 22 staff will have a group of about five museums to visit within a local authority area. Between all of us, our trial of the system will visit 111 museums by Christmas (27.5% of the population). We won’t be covering all LA areas in this round though, so don’t worry if you don’t get a call. We’ve selected a broad sample of the sector to visit in our first trial batch; a mixture of Accredited and non-Accredited museums; across lots of different local authority areas; in various stages of development; and of different sizes and types.

This is a six-month pilot to get to grips with the system and ensure all components are in place and work properly. We have questions to structure our conversation, but don’t be put off by us taking notes… don’t worry, this isn’t anything scary like an audit! We’ll just have lots to discuss and we need to make sure we don’t forget anything you suggest (or anything awesome that we’ll later ask you to write a case study about!).

So… black tea with one sugar, please. We’ll be round for a wee chat soon!

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