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£100,000 Arts Council Funding to share museum and university expertise

2 October 2012

Pottery

Museums and universities in London will share their mutual knowledge and expertise in innovative new ways, following the award of an Arts Council Grant to UCL, in partnership with University of the Arts London (UAL).

UCL and UAL will partner with the London Museums Group (LMG), which represents some 250 museums across the capital, to explore how London’s specialist museums can be further enriched by connecting them with additional resources and sources of expertise within universities. 

Universities can offer museums expertise in a wide range of subjects, including conservation and curating, new technologies and in-depth knowledge in disciplines such as science and geology.

For their part, museums often have deep experience of community engagement and audience interaction and hold unique resources in their collections and archives. They can offer universities creative and dramatic environments for teaching and public engagement, real life test-beds for critical theory, as well as opportunities for students to participate in museum life.  

We know from experience that university museums can act as bridges between universities and the museums sector

Sally MacDonald

The project aims to broker relationships between museums and academics, looking at areas such as the adoption of new technologies, schemes for student volunteers and internships in museums and projects that bring research innovations straight to museum audiences. A detailed scoping survey will provide a platform for these projects and will help inform university-museum partnerships elsewhere in the UK. 

Sally MacDonald, Director of UCL Museums and Public Engagement, said: “We know from experience that university museums can act as bridges between universities and the museums sector. As both UCL and UAL have accredited museums, we are uniquely placed to act as brokers.  

“Despite the obvious benefits of working together, universities and museums – particularly small museums – rarely do.  As a result, the nature of the relationships that are possible and the elements that make for successful collaborations have not yet been fully explored. This project aims to do just that.”

Judy Lindsay, Head of Museums at Central Saint Martins, UAL and Chair of the LMG, said: “The need for a form of brokering has perhaps never been more acute, at a time when public sector funding cuts mean that many museums are losing access to specialist expertise, and when the university sector is under intense pressure to ensure that research has public support and public impact. The introduction of higher student fees has also increased the imperative to link academic courses to practical work placements to increase student employability. 

“We’ve already seen through the Beacons for Public Engagement programme that strong cultural-academic partnerships can work to the mutual benefit of partners such as museums and universities. We are now taking our learning from that programme to the next level and building on the success of LMG’s existing SHARE London scheme.”


Links: 

UCL Museums & Collections
Sally MacDonald