The Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums project will run until March 2022. It is managed by our Audience Development Officer Rachel Miller, Sustainable Volunteering Officer Eleanor Moore and freelance Project and Partnerships Co-ordinator, Anna Bryant.

Three people walk up a path in a gardenEach of our participant museums have now gone through the National Museum Development Network’s Organisational Health Check process, supported by in-depth conversations with the Gloucestershire Museum Development Officer and with Rachel and Eleanor. This has provided an up to date understanding of each museums’ needs and priorities, in particular for volunteer involvement and audience development. Covid-19 has had a big impact on all the museums, and this process was an opportunity to reflect and reassess.

The results of this ‘diagnostic’ process are now with our appointed consultants in Audience Development, Volunteering, Safeguarding, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. The consultants are currently ‘on the road’, meeting each museum for further discussions to identify and prioritise support needs in these four areas.

What is the project about?

This project is all about helping museums to get ready to engage with a wider range of people, both as audiences and as volunteers. It will help museums to revisit their policies, procedures and plans for involving people in their activities to make sure these are fit for purpose and can take them forward to develop resilience. Taking time to assess exactly what the priorities are and identifying what skills and resources are missing is at the heart of any good museum planning. As well as resourcing this, the Rebuilding the Foundations project will help museums to find partners in their local communities with whom to work on their goals. This will help to raise their profile and value locally and so further increase their resilience.

We know that feeling connected, to share information, test ideas and hear about successes in other museums is vital to any development journey. So Rebuilding the Foundations has started to bring the museums together, so far on Zoom, for peer networking and to choose tools for peer communication. Even on Zoom, coming together has helped to combat the increased sense of isolation that staff, trustees and volunteers have felt in the wake of Covid-19.

What have we achieved so far?

Evaluation consultant, Sarah Rickett, is evaluating the project process against the outcomes we want to achieve. She’s found:

  • The diagnostic process was useful for museums regardless of their size/set-up and level they are operating at. It provided a valuable opportunity to review practices and reflect, to hold discussions internally and provoke new thinking/approaches. The process also allowed relationships to develop with trustees
  • Specialist consultants are adding value. They:
    • provide specialist knowledge
    • are more attuned to the subtleties and specifics, reflecting their expertise
    • can tailor a portfolio of support to the specific needs of individual museums

What’s next?

  1. The project consultants will pass their initial draft plans and recommendations to the museums in early September. Between September and November the museums will take time to understand and reflect on these and agree what they want to take forward – a vital opportunity to ‘get things right’.
  2. Two peer network meetings in September may see us in the same room for the first time! We’ll be exploring partnership working and evaluation.
  3. We’ll be networking in between meetings too – swapping tools and ideas in the identified areas of need. It’s all about supporting each other to move forward – with everything from understanding our target audiences to making our volunteer updates effective as we re-open this summer.
  4. We’re putting the finishing touches to four Museum Skills sessions with the consultants in November – there are limited spaces left for museums not participating in the project:

Find out more

Learn more about the project on the Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums project pages. To contact the team, please send us a message using our Contact Form and select ‘Projects’.

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