A ‘fruitful’ opportunity – Getting started with museum and university partnerships

Roz Bonnet, 11.04.2017

Almost 40 people took part in the recent SWMDP Museum Volunteering Forum event Getting things done in new ways: museums and higher education on March 21st at M Shed in Bristol.

Participants included trustees, volunteers and members of staff in museums, as well as museum freelancers. Also in attendance were academics and support staff responsible for employability, course placements and volunteering in universities.  It was a case of different sectors meeting to find out about each other’s ways of working and, in doing so, identify the fertile common ground for possible future collaboration.

Contacts and support

As a result of the event, SWMDP is now in contact with liaison staff (including volunteering officers, placement officers, employability teams and business development and academic partnerships officers in the following universities:  Bath Spa, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Bath, University of West of England, Swansea, Southampton and the ‘G4W’ group of universities, including Bristol.  If you would like to be put in touch with any of these outward-facing roles to discuss a project or partnership, please email Eleanor Moore, Sustainable Volunteering Officer

All the museums at the event have expressed interest in further support from SWMDP’s Sustainable Volunteering Team, Eleanor Moore and Jan Horrell, to build partnerships with universities. We will be supporting them both individually and through work with partner universities and with MUPI in the coming months.  We’ll report our progress and advertise opportunities for museums through this blog.

Taking things one step further for your museum – take part in MUPI!

We could not have held this regional networking event without direct funding support from MUPI (Museum University Partnerships Initiative). MUPI is an Arts Council England Museum Resilient Fund project.  Its aim is to facilitate museum and university partnerships across the nine Museum Development regions, and bring to together Higher Education and heritage funding so that a more strategic approach to museum and university partnerships can be developed.

As well support for building a regional network which this event kicked off, MUPI is hosting a series of regional ‘MUPI match’ events. These events are based on tried and tested methods of bringing people together to explore innovative and useful partnership working, stimulating new connections and new projects. Each event involves museum staff, volunteers, and academics working together to find mutually beneficial ideas that they would like to develop together.

The South West’s MUPI Match event takes place in Bristol on May 3rd, at the New Room.  Participants can bid for ‘thinking funding’ – to enable them to do desk research; have conversations; test ideas; and work together to plan their potential project. This thinking funding provides a critical part of the process, helping people to work out if and how to work together and refine their ideas. Teams will be supported to develop their partnership, and find effective ways to fund their project in the future.

If you know you want to take a partnership with a university further, then why not apply for your free place today?


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