Managing Change in Museums and Galleries : A Practical Guide book cover
1st Edition

Managing Change in Museums and Galleries
A Practical Guide

ISBN 9780367858506
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
226 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Managing Change in Museums and Galleries is the first practical book to provide guidance on how to deal with organisational change in museums, galleries or heritage organisations.

Written by two authors who have direct experience of leading change, running change programmes and advising on change in more than 250 museums and galleries, the book identifies the various problems, issues and challenges that any professional in a museum or heritage organisation is likely to encounter and provides advice on how to deal with them. The book’s six parts treat change holistically, and help the reader understand what change entails, prepare for it and lead it, ensure that everyone in the museum is involved, understand what can go wrong and evaluate and learn from it. Each chapter is devoted to a specific challenge that is often encountered during change and is extensively cross-referenced to other relevant chapters. Including a list of helpful resources and suggestions of useful publications for further reading, this book is a unique guide to change in museums.

Managing Change in Museums and Galleries is an essential resource for all museum practitioners – whether they be the people in museums and galleries who are leading change, or those affected by change as a leader, a member of staff or a volunteer.

Table of Contents

Nina Simon


Part 1: What is Change?
1. What are you changing?
2. Change takes time
3. The problem of short-termism
4. Small changes add up
5. Change is everyone’s job

Part 2: Preparing for Change
6. Are you ready for change?
7. What is your stimulus for change?
8. Balancing conflicting priorities
9. Why modelling change can help
10. Finding common purpose: a shared understanding of change
11. Be open to challenge and new ideas
12. Explore and test: the value of pilot projects
13. Expect chaos

Part 3: Leading Change
14. What makes a good change leader?
15. Governance and change
16. Funding and resourcing change
17. Staying relevant
18. Revisiting the mission
19. Values, behaviours and cultural change
20. Building trust
21. How to sustain change
22. Change of director during change process
23. Distributed leadership and sharing decision-making
24. Involving stakeholders in the change process
25. Community partnerships and change
26. Cuts and downsizing
27. Commercialisation and change
28. Embracing risk
29. Don’t be afraid to report problems or ‘failure’

Part 4: The Role of Staff and Volunteers in Change
30. Fear of change
31. Countering resistance to change
32. Supporting staff and volunteers during change
33. Staff/volunteer development and change
34. Champions of change
35. Keeping up morale during change
36. Silo-working
37. Overcoming project mentality
38. Restructuring, redundancies and staff changes
39. Communicating change, internally and externally
40. Internal networks and collaboration
41. The importance of conviviality
42. Acknowledging emotions

Part 5: Why Change Fails
43. Misunderstanding of change
44. Change is imposed
45. Resistance to change
46. Avoiding uncomfortable issues
47. Other priorities
48. Museum processes as a barrier to change

Part 6: Evaluating and Learning from Change
49. Tracking your change journey
50. The benefits of qualitative evaluation of change
51. Reflective practice
52. External voice and critical friends
53. Learning from peers
54. Learning from other sectors
55. Fixing the lessons of change in organisational memory
56. Sharing the learning

Appendix A: Resources to help you
Appendix B: Useful Publications

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Piotr Bienkowski has over 35 years of experience in the museum, arts, heritage and culture sector. As Director of the Our Museum programme, he oversaw one of the most extensive programmes of organisational change in the sector in recent times, working with nine museums across the UK to embed community engagement in their organisations. He has also been Deputy and Acting Director of Manchester Museum, and Professor of Archaeology and Museology at the University of Manchester, and he now advises a wide range of museums, galleries and heritage organisations as a consultant.

Hilary McGowan works with museums, galleries and heritage organisations to help them change, so they can thrive in the future. Her distinguished track record includes successfully leading major museums through change in York, Exeter and Bristol, increasing visitor numbers and boosting income. Hilary established her own business 25 years ago and has worked with over 200 different museums throughout the UK. As the principal museum Trustee at Bletchley Park for ten years, she played a leading role in the transformation of the Museum from mere survival to curatorial and commercial prosperity.


"Effective change management is one of the most essential skills for any leader - this book is a great reader for those new to leadership and those who need an insightful refresher. It’s accessible with real and relevant examples and based clearly on the broad experience of the authors and the individuals and organisations they’ve worked with.  It’s the sort of book you’ll pick up for one purpose and then find that you’re drawn into – wanting (and needing) to read more and more."

Iain Watson, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums 


"Managing Change in Museums and Galleries inspires, educates and empowers the reader to approach change in their museum with confidence. It is the book that I wish I’d had to support me over the last 25 years of my museum career. It applies concepts and theory to real life challenges, drawing on strong case studies from in and outside the museum sector. It is an invaluable guide to navigating change, and the challenges and opportunities it brings, in museums today."

Emma Chaplin, Director, Association of Independent Museums


"This publication […] draws on the authors’ considerable experience in the sector, and it shows. Suitably anonymised or tastefully vague examples are trotted out when needed but mostly you definitely get a vibe of elders sharing their wisdom […] The use of quotes is much more effective at conveying what a chapter is trying to do and reminds me a little of […] another experience-based and well researched book we reviewed a while back."

Jenny Mathiasson, Executive Producer & Host- The C Word: The Conservators' Podcast