Finding exciting new ways to improve the reach of museum collections

Finding exciting new ways to improve the reach of museum collections

By Museums Association


As museum collections continue to grow and stores become full, many organisations have had to refocus their approach and find new ways to broaden the reach of their exhibits. These have included long-term loans, loans boxes to schools, outreach projects and the professional sharing. This report details the scale of the collections but also what museums are doing to implement innovative projects that aim to increase access.

Public demand for engagement with collections is increasing; museums are putting measures in place to increase access in imaginative and innovative ways:

  • Approx 90% of museum collections are in storage13, meaning that we have barely begun to unlock the vast potential of the collections UK museums hold. 74% of museums felt that their collections could be better used,14 with 52% reporting increasing public demand for access to the collections they hold.
  • Just some of the ways collections can and are being used include the following: for research, education, social benefit, the garnering of social identity, sheer enjoyment, and other creative uses.
  • Provision for access to collections is increasing in response to increased public demand: a recent large scale study of UK museums found that open stores, group tours, learning programmes and events, voluntary projects (in collaboration with external specialist organisations) and long term loans are all ways in which collections are being opened up to the many, not just the privileged few.
Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2013