Delivering Collections for the Future in the North West
The Collections for the Future Steering Group, established in the North West in 2006, is responsible for developing issues arising from the Museums Association’s 2005 Collections for the Future report. The Group oversees the region’s Renaissance plans concerned with collections care, management, reinterpretation and display programmes, with a view to widening access and user engagement.
Led by the University of Manchester, the Steering Group’s membership represents a cross-section of regional museums including Bolton Museum & Archive Service, National Museums Liverpool, the Wordsworth Trust, and Museum Services in Blackburn & Darwen, Lancashire and Cheshire.
The group delivers the Collections for the Future and more recently the Effective Collections agendas via three strands of investment: supporting posts, provision of small grants, and a programme of events that stimulate debate around collections issues, including the ‘Curating for the Future’ conference.
Curating for the Future Conference
The second annual Curating for the Future conference, will take place 8&9 September 2008 at the University of Manchester. The conference will explore the theme of Relevance, Meaning and Responsibility.
Inspirational keynote speakers will address the why, how and who of each thematic strand by addressing Why museums have a global responsibility, How to make diversity work and Who decides the relevance and tells the story. There will be a debate where panel members will look at who is responsible for advocacy and how it can be done effectively.
Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions that will examine broad sectoral challenges such as organisational change, diversity, how long we keep collections for and how we use them, building relationships with our visitors and reflecting on the different types of cultural knowledge.
Nick Merriman's discussion A Sustainable Future for Collections, from the 2007 conference is attached below.
Paul Fraser Webb has been recruited to establish the mechanisms for peer review, and create a ‘safe’ environment for the discussion of museum disposals.
Paul has developed the tools museums need to assess their collections, and to help them get external, specialist advice from National, Hub and Designated museums in the region. He is also working closely with the Museums Association to ensure his research fits within the new Disposals Toolkit and the Effective Collections agenda.
Two pilot projects are being supported to test Paul’s research:
Salford Museum & Art Gallery is assessing its Egyptology collection by reviewing its provenance, significance, how it is cared for and accessed by the public, with the aim of increasing the use of the collection.
The Print Loan Collection at Gallery Oldham is being reviewed to maximise stewardship of the collection, with a view to giving the Gallery the authority and confidence to address any future suggestions for disposal.
In addition, Paul has establised a Collections Review Board, which will continue to facilitate a ‘safe environment’ where museums can discuss and review their policies and procedures. It will also act as a 'critical friend' when a museum is seeking an objective opinion on difficult decisions.