Welcome. We are an international research network bringing together academics and museum professionals to investigate the past, present and future of museum work. We seek to support and develop campaigns for fairness, inclusion and transparency in the museum sector by investigating the historical roots of the museum professions and the structures that supported them, from the birth of the modern museum (c. 1850) to the present day.

Globally, campaign groups are highlighting the systems of inequality facing many of those working in and with museums. The Making Museum Professionals network is inspired by these campaigns for fairer recruitment and career structures. Its aims are:

  • To identify, critique and reframe the processes by which museum professionals have been made, from historical and contemporary perspectives, in the UK and beyond.
  • To consider how museums and galleries have reflected and produced hierarchies, especially around class, disability, gender, race and sexuality.
  • To learn from how such hierarchies have been challenged and negotiated by those excluded and disempowered by museums.
  • To develop stronger relationships between academics and museum professionals, including those that are freelance.
  • To create spaces for dialogue between past, present and future, and to conceptualise historical practice as a tool to improve accessible professionalisation today.

The project recognises the museum in its broadest sense, from small volunteer-run organisations to the largest national museums and galleries. It also seeks to include non-curatorial roles such as design, education and conservation, amongst many others. It is based on the principle that modern museums developed and are developing in an increasingly globalised world, and aims to investigate professional development transnationally, recognising that people, training methods and standards are all highly mobile. It understands museums both as part of colonising Western scholarship, and as sites of potential resistance and social justice.

Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, from December 2022 to December 2024, the ‘Making Museum Professionals’ project will operate through three workshops. In these workshops, and in online spaces including this website, interested groups and individuals will work together to examine a range of critical issues relating to the museum workforce and its professionalisation. We hope to publish our findings on this website and in academic and sector journals. We will also produce campaign assets to help sector advocacy organisations continue their work to promote equitable professional development in the sector.

We welcome all those with an interest in the issues covered by the project to get involved. Please consider submitting a proposal to one of the project workshops, or contact us with your feedback and ideas on: museumprofessions@lincoln.ac.uk or at @makingmuseprofs on Twitter