A busy year of outreach (2017/18)

Funded by Arts Council England, Sarah Brown (our Outreach Officer) delivers support and guidance to museums across the English regions. After a busy year, we catch up with Sarah to find out more about her work.
Discussion during training event
What subjects have you focused on over the past year?

As always, rights management was a popular topic in 2017/18 – always one of my favourite workshops to deliver as there’s so much to discuss. Since its publication in September 2017, I’ve been doing more Spectrum 5 workshops and starting to focus on our ‘banishing the backlog’ theme.

Were there any themes that emerged this year when speaking to attendees at your workshops?
I’ve noticed some confusion and lack of confidence surrounding documentation plans and what we actually mean by a documentation backlog. It’s usually not as scary as people think. This is something we hope to address over the next few years as part of our new role as a Sector Support Organisation. I’ve also seen some museums I work with make great steps towards improving their documentation systems – even simple things like updating a neglected procedural manual can make a big difference.

How do you decide which museums to visit?

I work closely with the Museum Development Network, who organise all of the outreach venues. I couldn’t do my job without them.

[This map shows all the museums Sarah visited during 2017/2018]

Do you have any highlights of the museums you visited this year?
Towards the end of last year, I visited The Museum of English Rural Life in Reading to deliver some documentation training for South East Museum Development. They have a lovely exhibition of Ladybird books, which brought back some great childhood memories. And who knew there was a Ladybird book of nuclear power?

What have you learnt from the people who attend your workshops?
I’d honestly say I learn something new or pick up a useful tip from every outreach workshop I do, whether it’s a tip about preventing rogue new objects turning up on your desk or advocating for resources to put a documentation plan into practice. I always try to feed them into the next workshop I’m doing, so hopefully they’re always improving and up to date. I get asked about case studies a lot, so we’ve been gathering more together for our website and speakers for workshops where possible.

What’s planned for next year? Will there be a new focus for the outreach programme?
I’m looking forward to working more closely with small groups of Accredited museums in each region, and tracking their progress over the next few years, as part of our banishing the backlog programme. If you could do with some support, get in touch.


Take a look at our upcoming outreach events to see if there’s a session near you.