Museums Change Lives follows on from earlier work by the Museums Association to encourage change in museums. In the 1990s, we championed the role of museums in learning and stressed the importance of access for all. In the 2000s, we led a movement to get collections better used and better understood. Throughout, and working with many other organisations, we helped equip museums and their staff with skills, knowledge and ideas.
In 2012, the Museums Association decided it was time to look afresh at the role of museums and respond to changing contexts. At national level, devolution is changing policy towards museums, with museum strategies in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland; in England, changes come from the coalition government and Arts Council England’s new responsibilities for museums. Cuts in public spending mean jobs are being slashed and services curtailed. We launched Museums 2020 to look at the future of museums and their impact.
Our Museums 2020 discussion paper focused on the growing interest in how museums support positive social change. It drew on a wealth of writing and research to explore the ways museums impact on individuals, communities, society and the environment. It set out the powerful ways some museums are making a difference to people’s lives.
We stimulated professional debate, commissioned pioneering research into what the public thinks and spoke with charities and social enterprises that work with museums. Ideas and questions raised in Museums 2020 featured regularly in Museums Journal and on the Museums Association website. Hundreds of people gave their views in response to the discussion paper, at workshops and conference sessions, in online discussions, at public deliberative workshops and at specialist roundtables.
Museums Change Lives is built on that rich range of research and discussion.
Source: Article Introduction