Reflections on 2017

2017 has been a busy year for us here at MGS. As the festive season approaches, before we all start winding down for the year, I’d like to take a little time to reflect on the past 12 months.

We led by example…

Back in the Spring, we celebrated a proud moment as we became accredited as a Living Wage Employer. By making this public commitment, we hope to encourage others in the museums sector to commit to paying the real Living Wage.

…shared knowledge and training…

June saw us partnering with National Museums Scotland to hold a one-day ‘Sharing Collections Symposium’. The day focused on the themes of lending, borrowing, and touring exhibitions. We explored the barriers and opportunities to sharing collections and identified the support available nationally and internationally.

This successful day of informative talks, lively panel discussions and networking was followed by a bundle of training courses on the theme of lending and borrowing. This year we’ve also expanded our training offering by venturing into the world of webinars. You can catch up on highlights of the Symposium and all our webinars over on our video channel.

…and talked about inequality.

In October, it was time for our biennial conference, which this year focused on the theme of inequality. This was a real highlight of my year, as we delivered a conference that gave a platform for museums to demonstrate the work they are doing to tackle inequality, and brought other sectors together to consider the role of museums. People embraced the open, positive atmosphere and shared their own experiences honestly, allowing others to benefit from mistakes made and lessons learned. In a day packed with inspiring speakers, the keynotes were particularly memorable. From Nik’s inspirational vison to Adele’s depth and richness of experience, they complemented each other perfectly. I believe this was MGS’s best conference to date, and we are already thinking about to make 2019 even bigger and better.

We hit the road…

MGS staff have been out and about even more than usual during the second half of the year, thanks to the launch of Museum Connections. This initiative will ultimately see MGS visiting every single museum in Scotland. My own visits so far have included Dunollie House Museum, Lismore Museum, Auchindrain and Kilmartin House Museum. I was warmly welcomed and it was great to hear firsthand about past success, ambitious plans for the future, and current challenges. These visits are helping to shape the support we offer as your National Development Body. Thanks to everyone who has welcomed us so far, and we’ll see the rest of you over the coming year or so!

…threw a party…

Just a few weeks ago, we rounded off our big events for the year in true style – with a party! We gathered over 100 museum staff, volunteers and stakeholders at the National Mining Museum to celebrate an incredible 10 years of the Recognition Scheme. We were also delighted to welcome two new collections into the scheme. Paxton House’s Chippendale and Trotter Furniture Collection and the Scottish Regimental Museum Collection held by the Association of Scottish Military Museums became Scotland’s 48th and 49th Nationally Significant Collections. There were cakes, canapes and bubbles galore to celebrate 10 years and 49 fantastic collections, without which Scotland’s cultural heritage would be infinitely poorer.

…and were busy behind the scenes.

These big events and milestones are exciting, but I think it’s equally important to celebrate MGS’s every day work. Over the course of 2017, we’ve distributed £1.5 million in funding through our various funding streams. The projects we’ve funded range from youth theatre projects to museum redevelopments. In May, we ran the 11th annual Festival of Museums, with more events than ever before. We have conducted some lovely Accreditation visits to new museums joining the scheme this year, including Westray Heritage Centre and the Scottish Crannogs Centre. Along with our UK partners, MGS is also involved in the ongoing review of the Museums Accreditation process.

We want to hear about your successes too.

And finally, we’ll once again be wrapping up the year with our #MuseumsGaveToMe festive advocacy campaign. It runs on Twitter over the 12 days of Christmas (25th December to 5th January). Please do get involved so that we can share in and celebrate all your successes and achievements from 2017. All the information you need is here.


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