£1.4m museum funding support announced for the North of England

We are delighted to announce that Arts Council England will be continuing its vital support for museums in the north of England from 2024 through the creation of Museum Development North, which will be managed by a new partnership between York Museums Trust, the Manchester Partnership, Cumbria Museums Consortium and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

The £1.4m funding package from Arts Council England will support museum development activity in the north of England from 1st April 2024 until March 2026. This award reflects Arts Council England’s confidence in the expertise and track record of the partnership working of Museum Development teams across the area.

The partnership reflects the diverse nature of the sector in the north of England and will build upon the existing relationships the partners have with museums and the unparalleled knowledge of working with the sector. Museum Development North will have deep roots in its local areas, whilst benefitting from working across the north of England. The partnership will enable strong, agile museums that contribute to the distinctive life, cultures and identity of the north of England, which are highly valued for their transformational impact. Museum Development North will support museums, and the people who work and volunteer in them, with opportunities to develop their practice for successful and sustainable futures, as vital community assets, drawing upon Arts Council England’s Strategy Let’s Create, as a framework for development.

“This is very welcome news for so many museums operating across the North of England. We are delighted that Arts Council England has recognised the strengths of all the partners involved in Museum Development North. We are excited to develop our new partnership which brings together a breadth of expertise and a shared passion for the people and volunteers in museums who work tirelessly to promote, deliver and sustain culture across the north.”

Quote – Michael Turnpenny, Museum Development North

Museum Development North will work closely with Arts Council England, other area Museum Development providers and stakeholders as well as our community of museums across the north of England to prepare for its formal launch on 1 April 2024.

Bulletin October 2023

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Archive: Bernard Donoghue (CEO of ALVA) talk invitation, 9th November

We are delighted to extend a warm invitation to join Bernard Donoghue, CEO of ALVA (the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions), in Newcastle on Tuesday 9th November.

Bernard will be making a presentation to TWAM staff, partners and sector colleagues to share insights gained from across the cultural sector over the past two years, and there will also be a question and answer session following the presentation

This event will take place at the Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle, 11.30am-12.20pm and will be both an in person and online event, with attendees able to listen to the presentation remotely.

Bernard is responsible for the lobbying, public affairs, PR, bench-marking and networking association of ALVA's 70 members (including North East based TWAM, Beamish and Durham Cathedral). They comprise the majority of Britain’s biggest, most popular, iconic and best-known museums, galleries, castles, palaces, cathedrals, heritage sites, historic houses, zoos, gardens and leisure attractions, and which are responsible for managing over 2,200 sites, attracting more than 12 million visitors per month. Members include the National Trust, English Heritage, the National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland, Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Collection Trust.

Bernard is also Chair, London International Festival of Theatre, LIFT; Chair, Bristol Old Vic; Chair-Designate, People's History Museum; Mayor of London's Ambassador for Culture. CEO, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

To reserve your place please contact

ACE Northern Region Museums Convention - Travel Bursaries Available

Museum Development North East has now finalised its support programme planning for 2021/2, and we are just in the process of agreeing this with the Arts Council. 

Obviously there will be a lot of continuity from recent work including all our familiar support processes such as the monthly VON and other forums, conservation support via the TWAM Conservation team and the Collections Trust, support for Accreditation via Heather Lomas, and ongoing work on existing programmes such as the Organisational Heath Check, Audience Champions and Digital Mentors. 

But there will be some significant new support strands as well including increased co-working with other Museum Development teams, and obviously a key aim to help museums out of the pandemic. An important emphasis is to engage with new frameworks such as the Arts Council England's new Investment Principles, with an emphasis on themes such as making museums key parts of local places, encouraging enhanced environmental awareness, and strengthening the accessibility of museums to everyone (whether as visitors, staff, volunteers or trustees).  

Watch this space for more information and opportunities to take advantage of our support, but some immediate headlines include:

  • The 2021/2 MDNE Recovery and Development Grant Programme, which will again offer grants of up to £10,000 , and aim to provide flexible support museums as they emerge from Covid and develop their longer term growth;
  • The 'Big Conversation' with museums in the region, over a series of themed events where we explore the sectors future agendas, and how we can best collaborate and work together to deliver that. This process will also help to shape MDNE's future programme support proposals to the Arts Council;
  • The Roots and Branches Programme, working in collaboration with Museum Development North West as part of a national Museum Development initiative to support museums to engage with and develop their environmental agendas;
  • The Enterprising Museums Programme, working with the Association for Cultural Enterprises to support museum's commercial development, with a particular focus (in the light of Covid) on digital shops and the commercial aspects of museums' digital offer more generally.

So while there is a lot more on all this (and other programmes) to come, we look forward to working with you over the 2021/2 period towards what we all hope will be a gradual return to a more stable future for museums in the region.

New Manager for Museum Development North East

Museum Development North East – which is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and provides Arts Council England funded support to around 50 accredited museums across North East England – has a new manager. Ian Bapty started work at the end of June and is now busy both getting to grips with the job and meeting some of the wide range of museums he will be working with.

Ian has a background in archaeology, heritage and museums. His previous work includes helping the Church of England to improve the care of historic church buildings in the North East, developing a national project to support industrial heritage museums and sites across England, and managing a major conservation project along Offa’s Dyke, the ancient boundary between England and Wales.

‘Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working on some of Britain’s most remarkable heritage’ said Ian, ‘but none of that equals the amazing treasure trove of objects and collections held by museums here in the North East. Those museums have always told extraordinary stories about our shared past, but what is really exciting right now is the new ways museums are reaching out to everyone in the North East, supporting enhanced community identity and personal well-being’.

Ian is managing a number of programmes to help local museums continue to develop and flourish. That includes assisting museums to achieve and maintain accreditation (a national ‘best practice’ standard set by Arts Council England who administer government support for museums), setting up an innovative ‘digital residencies’ project to explore new ways of using digital technologies in museums, and exploring the potential for stronger partnerships with universities.

Bill Griffiths, Head of Programmes and Collections at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said ‘We are delighted to welcome Ian to our team. We’ve worked to develop Museum Development support in the region over many years, and Ian brings a wide range of experience to the role which will help us to build on that past achievement. Museums in the North East are touching more people’s lives than ever, and the work of Ian and Museum Development North East is a crucial part of that continuing transformation’.

Ian noted  ‘As a relative newcomer to the North East – I moved here three years ago and I’m now very happily settled in the beautiful seaside village of Craster - I feel very fortunate to now have an important role helping local museums to develop the key contribution they already make to the people, identity and well-being of this amazing region’.

Six museums selected to take part in contemporary art programme

Six museums in the North East, Yorkshire and the North West of England have been selected to take part in Meeting Point, an Arts Council England funded programme that partners museums and artists, resulting in the creation of new artworks, each inspired by an individual venue and its collections.

The programme, which is led by contemporary arts agency Arts&Heritage, aims to attract new audiences to the participating venues by placing contemporary artwork in unexpected spaces, and also helps museum staff to gain skills in commissioning and working with artists.

The six participating venues are Colne Valley Museum in Huddersfield; Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh, Northumberland; Port Sunlight Village Trust in Merseyside; Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust; Warrington Museum and Arts Gallery; and Washington Old Hall in Tyne and Wear. 

This is the third Meeting Point programme, building on the success of two previous programmes which have seen a total of 19 museums working with 24 curators to create 19 new artworks and over 100 workshops.   

Find out more at

North East Museum Development Programme 2018-22

We are delighted to launch a new phase of museum development support for North East museums.

Over the next four years we will be prioritising support for non-NPO museums, delivering a comprehensive programme so that your organisation has access to opportunities that will enable growth and development and ensure sustainability.  

2018-22 Programme Highlights Aspects of the programme that are continuing as part of our core offer, and are available to your museum now, include:

Additional priority areas for support include:

  • Digital (this will take the form of digital residencies, giving museums the opportunity to work with a digital practitioner)
  • Skills development opportunities (expanding our offer to include placements/shadow opportunities and the new Back to Basics training programme)
  • Understanding Audiences – providing support to improve systems of capturing visitor data & applying the data to programming and planning
  • Enterprising Museums – providing support to develop commercial opportunities, business confidence and entrepreneurial skills

Tell us about your priorities Your feedback is important for maintaining a relevant and engaging programme.  As we begin this new phase, we would like to take the opportunity to get some feedback from you and invite you to complete a short survey. Your feedback will help us to tailor the programme to address areas where there are common challenges and immediate needs.  . We will be circulating further information about the wider programme and how you can participate shortly, so please look out for our e-alerts and newsletters.

Collections Trust Release Spectrum 5.0

Collections Trust has announced the release of the latest edition of the collections management standard.

Spectrum 5.0 is available online in a fully interactive version, as free downloads of separate procedures or to buy in complete form. Spectrum gives tried-and-trusted advice on the things museums do when managing their collections. Spectrum calls these procedures and museums must meet nine of the primary procedures in order to be accredited.

This fifth edition of the standard has been thoroughly updated to reflect changing practice.  You can find out more about Spectrum 5.0 on the Collections Trust website here.

The Mendoza Review: an independent review of museums in England

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has published the Mendoza Review, an independent review outlining key recommendations for how government can support the museums sector in England. This Review was undertaken in response to the Culture White Paper in 2016, which called for “a wide-ranging review of national, local and regional museums, working closely with Arts Council England (ACE) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)”. It looks at what the national infrastructure for museums is and what it could and should be; the museums sponsored directly by government; and the challenges and opportunities for all of England’s museums. It makes recommendations across the following areas:

  • Adapting to today’s funding environment
  • Growing and diversifying audiences
  • Dynamic collection curation and management
  • Contributing to placemaking and local priorities
  • Delivering cultural education
  • Working in museums: Developing leaders with appropriate skills & Diversifying the workforce
  • Digital capacity and innovation
  • Working international

Find out more and view the full report here

AIM Launches New Success Guide On The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Museums and other cultural organisations that want to understand how they should be responding to current and forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can now benefit from a free Success Guide from AIM called Successfully Managing Privacy And Data Regulations In Small Museums. 

The new AIM publication has not been created as a guide to everything in the Data Protection Act (DPA) – or the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – but focuses instead on the most important areas for action now. The GDPR applies to the whole UK, so this guide is suitable for all AIM members and other heritage sector organisations across the UK. You can download the guide here.