Our Museum project

Our Museum project

Our Museum: an overview 

In 2009, Glasgow Museums was asked to take part in a national UK study, commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF), on engagement and participation in museums and art galleries in the UK. The study, led by Dr Bernadette Lynch, asked staff and community partners at 12 museums and galleries across the UK what was understood by engagement and participation in their organisations, how well it was working and where these museums and galleries thought their engagement work was heading. This report (summarised in the PHF publication Whose cake is it anyway?) concluded that the funding invested in recent years in public engagement and participation in the UK's museums and galleries has not succeeded in shifting the work from the margins to the core of many of these organisations.

As a result of this report, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation created a Special Initiative, entitled Our Museum, to facilitate a process of development and organisational change within museums and galleries that are committed to active partnership with their communities. The Our Museum initiative offers a three year support programme for participating museums and galleries that is helping facilitate systemic organisational change which will lead to participatory work becoming core, embedded, sustainable and less at risk of being marginalised when specific funding streams run out. The emphasis is on a process of change rather than short term project work. 

Glasgow Museums is now entering the third and final year of participation in this initiative. We are focused on changing the course of our organisation’s working practice to better meet the needs of our communities. Over the course of our participation in the Our museum initiative, we have approached this change process via two key research questions:

“How do we change the ways we work together?" What internal practices and systems can enable the vision of change we have set for ourselves and support our staff to grow as a community of practitioners who are committed to participation and engagement?


“How best do we exchange knowledge, skills and ideas and build effective collaborative partnerships with our communities?” What mechanisms do we need to put in place within our organisational structures that will better equip us to more fully involve communities in the work we undertake.

To date, we have focused our change process on creating spaces for dialogue and exchange and providing opportunities for our staff and community partners to come together and share ideas. In Year 3, we intend to embed the spaces and opportunities we have created into our service planning. We also intend to develop further spaces for reflection as we move through Year 3 which will support us in keeping the changes instigated by the Our Museum process alive.

Visit the Our Museum page on the Paul Hamlyn Foundation website here​ 

Staff Ambassadors Programme 

The Staff Ambassadors Programme is a professional development programme that supports staff to develop new ways of working with each other and with the communities we serve whilst at the same time reflecting on their working practice.  For further information you can email us here​ or you can download our information pack under the Related Documents section on the right of this page.

Insight Cafés and Creative Cafés

Glasgow Museums is currently creating opportunities for exchange, dialogue and reflection for members of our communities and for our museum. These platforms are providing opportunities for all of us to be curious, to ask questions, to listen actively and carefully to other’s ideas, perspectives and wisdom and to reflect together on where these may lead us. 

The Insight Café discussion series brings new perspectives, ideas and current research into Glasgow Museums that will allow us to connect with issues relevant to our city and the people who make up our diverse communities. 
Sessions are programmed each month.

Creative Cafés are designed as a regular ideas generation mechanism that provides regular and ongoing opportunity for community partners and Glasgow Museums’ staff to share and collaboratively generate ideas and dialogue to drive GM programme planning. These cafés will encourage and capture the creativity of our staff and communities from the very beginning of the planning process for programmes of displays, events, learning opportunities and research. 

Creative Café events are scheduled to occur at regular points throughout the year, coinciding with our planning cycles. 

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