Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums was a National Lottery Heritage funded project which focused on securing a future for museums that is engaged, relevant and sustainable.
The project empowered ten participant museums to develop the capacity of their volunteer workforces, engage with a broader audience, and promote their museums as unique parts of Gloucestershire’s cultural landscapes.
Rebuilding the Foundations interrogated current models of volunteer involvement and audience engagement and invigorated museums’ thinking about their structures and processes, helping them to roadmap for the future.
Through this project, museums are now able to plan offers and opportunities that are more relevant to a broader range of volunteers, leading to increased engagement and diversity in audiences and with their communities.
The project’s development journey
- Each museum undertook Museum Development England’s Organisational Health Check to assess their current volunteer structures and develop strategic priorities for the project
- Four specialist consultants delivered bespoke support to each museum, as well as training in their areas of expertise:
- Audience Development – museums developed their understanding of devising, gathering and analysing audience research to support them to target new audiences
- Volunteering – museums were supported to review and strengthen their structures around volunteer recruitment and succession planning
- Safeguarding – museums received detailed, tailored support to develop and implement safeguarding policies and procedures for their individual settings
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – a road map was developed to support an organisation-wide approach to change, which places Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of what museums do
- A peer network was established to support coordinated action, partnerships and problem solving
- Each museum received a £300 project participation grant to start their next steps and delivery
More information about the project process and outcomes can be found in the Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums project resource.
The Impact of the Project
This project enabled participant museums to analyse where their offer to volunteers and audiences could change and then to plan the steps needed to make these changes. It put technical knowledge and skills in place to provide and maintain flexible and varied volunteer opportunities to new groups; to reach out to under-represented groups as audiences, supporters and volunteers; and to welcome them appropriately and safely, supported by robust and effective policies and procedures
The project also engendered a culture across participant museums of tackling priority needs, individually and together, unlocking the potential of a more responsive, connected and confident museum sector in Gloucestershire.
The Organisational Health Check
Mark George from Dean Heritage Centre explains how the Organisational Health Check helped to provide a baseline of where the museum was and where to improve.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
Sarah McCormick Healy discusses the process of working with a consultant on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and how Court Barn Museum will embed EDI into their culture.
Visitor surveys and volunteer notes
Chris Hill outlines how Jet Age Museum have acted on recommendations that emerged from the Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums project.
Sarah McCormick Healy from Court Barn Museum explains the importance of appointing a safeguarding lead, which was one of the recommendations of the Safeguarding consultant.
Rebuilding the Foundations has resulted in the development of a range of tried and tested resources available for other museums, heritage organisations and sector development officers.