Nineteen museums and galleries join Museum Transformers programme

V&A Dundee, Culture Perth and Kinross and Paisley Museum are among 19 museums, galleries and heritage organisations that will be participating in Museums Galleries Scotland’s (MGS) Museum Transformers programme.

The two-year programme is a collective effort between Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) and its partner organisations to “restructure as organisations based on anti-oppressive principles”.

It is part of Delivering Change, MGS’s wider programme supporting museums and galleries to improve access to culture for those who have experienced systemic exclusion. The programme is based on the recommendations of the Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums report published in 2022.

The Museum Transformers scheme has been developed by MGS and an expert advisory group and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government.

It aims to empower the museum workforce to make changes to help all people to access culture, and is designed to take an organisation-wide approach that includes trustees, staff, and volunteers.

Participating organisations will build on their previous diversity, equity and inclusion work to deepen community impact and diversify their audiences, partners and workforce.

“We’re thrilled to have 19 museums and galleries become Museum Transformers,” said Sheila Asante, the Delivering Change programme manager at MGS.

“These organisations are already undertaking anti-oppression work to improve access to culture and this programme will support them to fully embed it across their organisation. As part of the programme they’ll form a changemaking cohort that will share their learnings with the museum sector.”

“We are really pleased to be participating in the Museum Transformers programme,” said Rhona Corbett, head of heritage and culture at Culture Perth and Kinross.

“As with many museum services, the collection here in Perth was partially shaped by empire and the colonial exploitation of people and resources.

“The team is striving to not just acknowledge this injustice, but to ensure that the voices of those who continue to be silenced or ignored are represented and heard. We recognise the enormous cultural shift that it will take to achieve this and believe that the starting point is with the people who work or volunteer here.

“Participating in this programme will provide us with the opportunity to undertake this work in a focused, supported and safe way, with input from voices that are not our own giving us the confidence to move forward in the right direction.”

The full list of Museum Transformers is:

  • Cromarty Courthouse
  • Culture Perth and Kinross
  • David Livingstone Birthplace
  • HMS Unicorn
  • Inverclyde Council
  • Leisure and Culture Dundee
  • Museums & Galleries Edinburgh
  • National Galleries of Scotland
  • North Lanarkshire Council
  • Paisley Museum
  • Paxton House
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Physicians’ Gallery (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh)
  • The Scottish Crannog Centre
  • Shetland Museum and Archives
  • The Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections
  • The Whithorn Trust
  • Timespan
  • V&A Dundee

Delivering Change includes two other programmes. Museum Activists is a programme for staff and volunteers in Scottish museums that offers training and support to help all people to access culture. Applications to join the next cohort will open at the start of May 2024.

Community Catalysts is open to community groups and grassroots organisations to access funding, support, and heritage partnerships, to help make museums work better for their communities.

Sustainability and resilience grants awarded
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum has received a grant from the Capital Resilience Fund

MGS recently announced the latest grants awarded via a number of its other funding streams. Five museums will share £175,000 from the Sustainable Co-production Fund, which supports collaboration with communities: Paxton House, HMS Unicorn, Glasgow School of Art, David Livingstone Birthplace, and Glasgow Life Museums.

Meanwhile, 14 museums will share £521,000 through the Capital Resilience Fund, which supports capital costs that directly increase the resilience of museums by increasing energy efficiency, reducing running costs or preventing increases in maintenance and repair costs.

They are: Bennie Museum, National Mining Museum Scotland, Dundee Heritage Trust (Verdant Works), South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (Low Parks Museum), The Whithorn Trust, Glasgow Women’s Library, John Paul Jones Birthplace Museum, David Livingstone Birthplace, National Trust for Scotland (Robert Burns Birthplace Museum), Museum of Islay Life, St Andrews Heritage Museum & Garden, Glasgow Life Museums (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum), Inverclyde Council (McLean Museum), and High Life Highland (Inverness Museum & Art Gallery).

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