Open Up: Museums for Everyone began in 2017 at the initiation of the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) in partnership with Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Northern Ireland and the Welsh Government.

The project and resulting resources were designed for the use museums of all sizes to increase the diversity of their visitors to make real and lasting change in the museum sector.

Co-created with twelve pioneering museums, the new resources can be downloaded in PDF and are available in English and Welsh.

Art Fund – Going Places – Oct 2023

The Open Up resources have been developed to help museums bring about the internal changes they need to make to start doing things differently and welcome new visitors to their museums

AIM Director, Emma Chaplin

Resources Include

  • The Story of Change – a planning template for you to capture your ideas as you work through the book
  • 5 key Steps – to take to complete your Story of Change
  • 8 Success Factors – which are explained as you go along
  • Tools – frameworks, exercises, discussions and practical advice that you can use to build your Story of Change
  • 12 Case Studies – from pioneering museums to inspire your thinking

AIM’s Director, Emma Chaplin, said the Open Up resources offer new, inspiring and practical ways for museums to broaden their relevance and appeal to attract a more diverse range of visitors.

“The whole museum sector has struggled to make itself attractive to visitors outside the groups that have traditionally come to museums,” she said. “Research told us that AIM members knew this was a challenge that they needed support to address it. The Open Up resources have been developed to help museums bring about the internal changes they need to make to start doing things differently and welcome new visitors to their museums. It has been co-produced with a wide range of sector bodies and museums so we can’t wait to see how people begin to use it now.”

By working with the participating museums, the project captured stories of change and identified the factors of success that have led to museums significantly diversifying their visitors and the questions that they regularly ask of themselves to continue to improve.

The resulting research, website and guides have grown out of the experience of 12 pioneering museums. They are:

Derby Museums, Beamish Museum, Museum of Cambridge, Glasgow Women’s Library, Black Country Living Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, Cardiff Story Museum, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, V&A, National Museums Northern Ireland, National Museum Wales and National Museums Liverpool.

The Open Up: Museums for everyone project, resources and website have been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England, MALD (Museums, Archives and Libraries Department – Welsh Government) and National Museums Northern Ireland.

“AIM initiated the project under my predecessor, Tamalie Newbery, and secured Arts Council England as the core funder,” says Chaplin. “They key to success was in making this a partnership project. This is certainly only the start of the journey for AIM and its members with Open Up so we are looking forward to receiving feedback and understanding how we can best support members as they look to use the Open Up resources in their museums.”

Julie Aldridge Consulting led the study and the Guide is written by Julie Aldridge, Mel Larsen and Pam Jarvis and co-created with 20 museums across all four countries of the UK.

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