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Collections for the Future

In 2005 the Museums Association produced Collections for the Future, a report based on the results of an inquiry into a range of issues from open storage and a distributed national collection to working with private owners, acquisition, transfer and disposal. The report makes recommendations in three areas: increasing engagement with collections, ideas and knowledge, the dynamic use of collections and strengthening the workforce. Its primary rationale is to ensure that more people have more opportunities to engage with museum collections, and that those collections are as rich, diverse and inspiring as they can possibly be.

MLA North West and the North West Hub as Renaissance North West have embraced Collections for the Future as a framework for the modernisation of the region’s museums.

A steering group of representatives from hub and non-hub museums provides leadership on taking forward the suggestions of the report. The group meets quarterly and is chaired jointly by the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery, reflecting the University museums’ lead on collections development within the North West Hub.

The steering group’s guiding principles and responsibilities are underpinned by their commitment to developing audience-focused collections activity.

To download a pdf of the full Collections for the Future report see:


The Collections for the Future report explores how museums can make cultural entitlement to collections a reality. It advocates offering more opportunities for people to engage with Museum collections and the ideas and knowledge associated with them.

Engagement with things might be through display, open storage, publications, loans to schools and to other museums or institutions. Engaging with Ideas and Knowledge recognises that collections stimulate research and debate. A museum’s stock of knowledge must be regularly replenished and driven by users’ needs and interests.

Renaissance North West is committed to expanding the opportunities for people to engage with collections. Renaissance North West is providing opportunities for our regional museums to embrace the theme of ‘engagement’ through a number of small grants schemes that have operated since 2004.

The Dynamic Collection

The Collections for the Future report states that collections change over time. The Dynamic Collection is a vibrant collection that continues to grow and where transfer, disposal and loans are regarded as an integral part of collections development. The ideal of the dynamic collection is to encourage museums to explore long term loans and touring exhibitions to ensure that collections are more mobile and seen in more venues.

Renaissance North West is committed to using the Museums Association’s Collections for the Future report as the framework for delivering collections' development in the region. It embraces the ambition that increasing access to collections underpins all collections' management and development work.

Renaissance North West commissioned a Conservation and Collection Care Mapping Exercise during 2006. In response to the report Renaissance North West will deliver a programme of investment that includes:

  • the post of Collections Liaison Officer
  • a grants scheme
  • a programme of training and workforce development opportunities under the umbrella of ‘Collections Care’
  • stimulate the debate of key issues

Strengthening the Sector

The Collections for the Future Report states that if museums are to realise the potential of their collections then the sector needs to be strengthened. Increased collaboration and more investment in training, development and succession planning will be needed. In particular, museums need to renew their sources of expertise, both internally and externally.

Renaissance North West is currently working in partnership with other agencies in the region to develop a programme of workforce development and training events for the North West. Events, training courses and other workforce development opportunities will be announced on this website and through our e-bulletin.

For more information on our work on Collections for the Future, contact Catriona West, Development Officer (Renaissance):
T: 01925 625056
E: .

Stockton Heath Library Stockton Heath Library
St George's Hall, Liverpool

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