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Working more closely with Higher Education – what’s in it for museums?

Roz Bonnet, 18.01.2018

Student volunteering, hosting students on course-based placements, joint research projects – these are all ways in which museums and universities can benefit from building closer relationships.

SWMDP’s Museum Volunteering Forum meets again in February to focus on Higher Education partnerships as a means of widening participation and involvement.  Since our last focus on this theme, in March 2017, relationship-building has been ongoing across the region.

The National Trust has worked with the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership to offer two collaborative doctorial opportunities at Snowshill Manor.

Several Southwest based museum- university projects were successfully awarded MUPI (Museums and University Partnership) funding to explore ways of working more closely together.  These have included museums in Somerset and Gloucestershire working with academics to look at interpreting flooding events through museums and their collections; museums and universities jointly researching learning outside the classroom, and academics helping to drive the emerging ‘Our Town Our Place’ project, involving town museums in Somerset.

Find out more about the MUPI funding and project here: https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/work-with-us/current-projects/museum-university-partnerships-initiative

A university-led, AHRC-funded initiative, ‘Bridging the Gap’ has published its findings. Bridging the Gap was a year-long research project to explore collaborative research in the Arts and Humanities at a regional scale in South-West England and South-East Wales.  http://gw4.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/GW4-Bridging-the-gap-Report_WEB-1.pdf

The South West Museum Development Programme also received MUPI funding to work with Bath Spa University and the University of West of England to hold a focus group for museum and university participants to better understand the underpinnings of successful student placements in museums.

Diana Walters, who facilitated this focus group, will present its findings and recommendations for increasing the number and quality of student placements in museums at the Museum Volunteering Forum on February 28th.  Alongside this, two West of England museums, Yate Heritage Centre and B&NES’ Heritage Services, will share their practical experience of involving students on placement in different ways.

If your museum has experience of hosting student placements and you want to share your learning, through joining the Forum discussion on February 28th, please email Eleanor Moore, Sustainable Volunteer Officer with SWMDP eleanor.moore@bristol.gov.uk

The Museum Volunteering Forum involves, by invitation, volunteer co-ordinators and other museum staff who are actively developing new ways of involving volunteers in their museums, as a way of peer networking, developing and sharing good practice across the South West. The Forum reports regularly on activity and progress through this blog.  If you are an active museum volunteer co-ordinator working strategically to develop volunteer involvement at you museum, and would like to be considered to take part in the Forum, please contact eleanor.moore@bristol.gov.uk .  

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