Small changes add up
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Our Museum programme reflects our belief that museums and galleries should work in active partnership with their communities. This requires an organisation-wide approach, which
involves lots of changes across the service.
Initial research concluded that many museums and galleries currently bolt on short–term community projects to their other work. This does not result in genuine participation and means they are vulnerable to cuts in project funding.
As part of the Our Museum Initiative, several museums and galleries experimented in deeper partnerships and different aspects of organisational change.
This website is a collection of the learning and thinking from our initiative and beyond.
We hope they inspire conversation and action and encourage each of us to consider what our role could be.
Participation can be a confusing term. In relation to community engagement, it means more than simply taking part. It is a way of working in partnership with people outside the organisation to get a better outcome. Genuine participation involves sharing decision-making and power; acting and creating together; or supporting community-led initiatives.
Participatory methodologies are not new; they have been developed by practitioners and analysed by academics for decades. Although participation might feel like a relatively new idea for museums and galleries, it’s well-established in lots of sectors including regeneration, health, and international development.
We hope these resources will also challenge some common perceptions about participation. For example, participation need not hinder financial growth; working with individual, targeted communities is not enough on its own; and bolted-on outreach projects do not amount to substantial participation.
These resources are a sort of ‘travel survival kit’, a guide to help organisations on their change journey, to become more participatory and build active partnerships with their communities.
Please download, show and share widely. Perhaps they will provoke discussion and inspire new ways of working across the sector?
Frequently Asked Questions
Tips on using this site:
- The resources all relate to different aspects of organisational change. If you are not sure what a topic title means look for the summary:
- We have organised our resources into five categories and each one has an animated introduction;
Governance and leadership
Staff professional development
Engaging with community partners
Learning and evaluation
- There are different ways to explore. We have created selections for people and groups. Or you might want to enter your own keywords into the search bar.
- If you like what you see, look for further information under Associated Documents.
- Most of the resources are audio visual. If you don’t have headphones or have access requirements you can switch on subtitles by clicking the closed captions (CC) icon on the video.
Organisational changes for participatory community engagement
Explore selections for...
Needs and assets
The starting point should be community needs and assets, rather than seeking to fulfil museum needs first.