Rebuilding the Foundations: Gloucestershire’s Museums

Our National Lottery Heritage Fund project supported ten museums to improve their approaches to audience development and volunteer involvement.

Heritage Fund logoAbout the project

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.

Participant Interviews

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.

Project resources

A woman holding a megaphone with her arm raised. Five little circles with people's faces in them surround the megaphone.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.

Invigorating approaches to audiences and volunteering

A project resource for museums and Museum Development practitioners.

Fitting it all together: An integrated approach to Volunteering, Safeguarding and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

How to ‘fit together’ different aspects of your policy and procedural framework.

Volunteering: Where are you now? – Volunteer management checklist

Our checklist can help review your museum’s volunteer management and identify any gaps

Volunteer recruitment cycle

This visual guide will help you review, plan and implement your volunteer recruitment strategy.

Introduction to safeguarding in museums

A resource designed to help you to understand why safeguarding matters for museums and what your overall responsibilities as a museum are.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Roadmap can be used with museum colleagues, governing bodies and stakeholders to take an organisation-wide approach to change and placing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of what museums do

Top Tips in Audience Development

Tips to help you at different stages of your audience data gathering journey.

Framework for working in partnership

Use this resource to help you to take a planned and thoughtful approach to partnership development, to give the best chance of success for both partners.