Q & A with South West Museum Development

Dec 17, 2019

Eleanor Moore is the Sustainable Volunteering Officer for South West Museum Development.  Here she talks to us about her role in the organisation and how they support Museums in the South West.

Could you tell us the role and aims of South West Museum Development?

South West Museum Development’s mission is to support museums in the region to be ambitious, to develop excellence and resilience, increase audiences and support community engagement. 

Our organisation provides support, specialist advice and development opportunities to Accredited museums and those working towards Accreditation across the South West. 

We support a network of Museum Development Officers and deliver a Museum Skills programme – a targeted, fully funded training programme for museums of all shapes and sizes that helps participants to connect, to be inspired and to develop new skills.

Can you describe what your role is within the organisation?

I lead on the implementation of good practice in all aspects of volunteering within museums, including:

  • Specialist advice and support on volunteering, including ideas and inspiration
  • Tailored training sessions and regional workshops, through existing local networks, including the Museum Development Officer network and county network groups
  • Signposting to resources and up to date industry information
  • Brokerage of partnerships and project funding opportunities
Can you tell us about museum led projects or activity that has successfully engaged with children and young people?

Young Devon Museum Volunteers was a pilot project that supported three museums in Devon (South Devon Railway Museum, Teign Heritage Centre and the Museum of Dartmoor Life) to involve young people aged between 16 and 18 to explore roles in museums.  The project was partly supported by funding from Teignbridge District Council and well as receiving South West Museum Development support and funding. 

At the beginning of the project the young people received training from our Thematic Officers in object handling, preventative collections care, social media in museums and understanding and welcoming audiences. Following this they chose to try out roles such as researcher, photographer, tour leader, audience researcher, social media content creator.  They led activities, including developing and running a museum takeover event. Through this project the young people improved their awareness and understanding of the history of their local place and developed an awareness of what it takes to run a small business. Following this experience, the young people reported a growth in confidence, telling us that they are now likely to participate more in college and in the wider community.

From the museums’ perspective, museums reported increased confidence in safeguarding and in building this awareness across the volunteer team. One of the standout benefits was access to young people’s perspectives, skills and aptitudes not currently held within their workforce.  The project diversified the age profile of their volunteer teams.

To find out more and see films about the project visit: https://southwestmuseums.org.uk/what-we-do/projects/young-devon-museum-volunteers/

To keep in touch with South West Museum Development’s work, visit their website and sign up to their newsletter.

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