Museum Partnership report offers a first in-depth analysis of the work of national museums 9 Aug 2019

DCMS has been working with the national museums and NMDC to produce a new Museum Partnership Report, mapping the work of 17 museums during 2017 - 18. The report is in response to the Mendoza Review of Museums (2017) which found that partnership work is extensive and commendable, but not always well documented or understood. The report covers work both internationally and domestically, work between museums and across society, with projects ranging from object loans to mass commemoration and knowledge sharing. The report’s insights will make it easier to make strategic decisions to extend partnership work still further. The range of work includes:

  • National museums had ​69,299​ objects out on loan to ​2,110​ venues for display, which were seen by at least ​32.9 million people in 2017 – 18.
  • At least 14.4m were seen in venues outside the UK. For example, an audience of 2.2m in China saw exhibitions including The British Library’s tour of star objects, which was accompanied by wider cultural exchange including a Chinese language website and reciprocal staff exchanges.
  • Within the UK, national museums made 1,474​ loans of ​60,022 ​objects to over 900 ​individual venues, reaching an audience of 18.4m. This includes 37 touring exhibitions sent to 127 venues across the UK. National museums also borrowed extensively from non-national museums for their own exhibitions.
  • Lending and borrowing programmes have significant costs and national museums are often the largest investors, providing staff time, equipment and expertise on an at-cost basis. Large sector bodies such as NLHF also support loan programmes, as do trusts and foundations, such as the Dorset Foundation, which has supported the British Museum’s loans programme since 2002.
  • National museums supported other museums to acquire objects, enabling 462 acquisitions by 205 organisations in the UK.
  • There is a growing offer of training and conference programmes. These include National Museums Scotland’s National Training Programme, which offered 377 learning experiences for 310 museum staff from 75 organisations in 2017 – 18.
  • National museums are involved in 326 groups, ranging from Sector Specialist Networks to UK Registrars and the Museums Computer Group. They also lead international consortiums: National Museums Liverpool has led on the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) which now has more than 130 members in 37 countries.
  • National museums supported entry into the museum sector through 60 traineeships and apprenticeships in 2017 – 18. Examples include The National Gallery’s curatorial traineeship programme supported by the Art Fund and Vivmar Foundation, which offers in depth training for a year across two museum sites. Royal Museums Greenwich delivers an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Conservation, and the BM’s Museum Futures programme works with seven partner museums to give a new generation skills in digital data management.
  • National museums are involved in 2584 academic partnerships across the world, including 1025 in the UK. 11 have Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status. Among these is the Natural History Museum, currently engaged in digitising 80 million specimens to give the global scientific community access to its data. Digitisation of its mosquito collection has helped improve estimates of risks of exposure to the Zika virus. National museums also co-hosted 287 ​​doctoral students with ​68​ different UK universities.

Responding the report, NMDC said it showed that “museums’ partnership working is extensive and not limited to museum-to-museum activity; instead it covers a huge range of national and international partners to deliver different benefits to the sector, audiences, society and the (whole report), NMDC (response)