About the initiative

Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners is a Paul Hamlyn Foundation programme to facilitate a process of development and organisational change within museums and galleries committed to active partnership with their communities, with the ambition of affecting the museum sector more widely.

Between January 2012 and December 2015, the programme worked with the following organisations: Hackney Museum; Bristol Culture; The Lightbox, Woking; Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales ; Belfast Exposed; Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums; Glasgow Museums.

We also worked with:

  • Ryedale Folk Museum, between January 2012 and June 2014
  • Museum of East Anglian Life, between January 2012 and February 2015

The Our Museum programme was based on these four outcomes:

Outcome 1: rooted in local needs
Museums and galleries understand their role within their localities: they are effectively informed of, and respond to, the range of their communities’ needs and values, and are aware of and initiate opportunities for partnerships with communities and other sectors to meet local needs.

Outcome 2: community agency
Communities are sustainable at the core of all the values, strategies, structures and work of museums and galleries: actively and regularly participating and collaborating in dialogue and decision-making about the work of the museum/gallery.

Outcome 3: capability-building
Museums and galleries play an effective role in developing community skills, capabilities and creativity: preparing and helping people to be engaged in their communities, to articulate their voices, to find employment or volunteering opportunities in the heritage sector and elsewhere; and supporting staff to learn how to work with communities.

Outcome 4: reflection
Museums and galleries embed reflective practice into their work: internally, with community partners, and across the sector, to ensure ongoing reflection, dialogue and openness to challenge, alternative values and working methods.

The initiative also published several reports documenting some of the thinking, learning and outcomes.

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