Museums of the Future (MoF) is a research and partnerships project that aims to foster strategic partnership with stakeholders within the museum and heritage sector with a view to formulating strategic research, development and innovation priorities for museums and heritage institutions and collaborative research projects. It is interdisciplinary and multi-sectorial where museums, academia, innovation, technology and creative industries are key fields of enquiry and exploration. It adopts a working-in-partnership approach, where the team collaborate with heritage institutions and local, national and international museums, to build capacity and develop collaborative activities and research programmes. One of our aims considers the deployment of digital technologies in recording, dissemination and interactive display of heritage collections in museums that suits future generations and progressive technologies.
Museums of the Future engages multidisciplinary researchers and experts in museum collections, histories and architecture with stakeholders and beneficiaries in museums, curators, and creative industries. It investigates potential applications and impact of new forms of interactive engagement with different user groups through intelligent and novel means of display, educational resources and digital materials to help broaden museum offers and outreach to national and international audiences. Partners include museums, galleries, archives, and other heritage institutions. The project takes the form of a research network, comprising stakeholder engagement workshops to set the context for real world problems, challenges and creative future-proof solutions which can be explored in collaborative projects to bring research institutions, museums, heritage sector and creative industry together.
Learn more about our active research projects, partnerships and collaborations.
The United Kingdom is home to an estimated 2,500 museums, of which 1,800 are accredited and formally registered. With a diverse scope of work, museums can be classified as national, local, university, independent, regimental, palaces or heritage sites. Museums serve a large section of society with in excess of 100 million visits a year. Moreover, there are 2,389 registered archives in the UK, of which 122 are national, 654 local, and 324 university-based. In total, there are close to 4,889 heritage institutions (museums, archives and heritage sites) that are integral to the socio-cultural patterns of everyday live in the UK.
In most cases, they are public institutions, funded by tax payers, and in large part dependent on both public funding as well as income generated from visitors and tourists. Since the 2008 financial crisis, public funding has increasingly declined and this, in addition to changing user patterns due to increased digital technology, have challenged museums like never before. Many community, volunteer-run museums are under severe pressure to find enough volunteers and may struggle to stay open, whilst many institutions are also struggling with the impact of budget cuts, Brexit, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project evolved since 2018, from being a local partnership initiative with Nottingham Museums, to have a wider national and international scope with a number of strategic partnerships with museums across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This project builds on the positive and productive collaborations of key partners with NTU researchers in several projects over the past few years. These include developing digital collections (Lace Archive, Virtual Reconstruction, Nottingham Castle) or investigating user-groups perceptions (National Justice Museum), as well as documenting heritage sites in the Middle East (Iraq, Jordan, Egypt), India and China. There has also been significant work carried out with museums in Northern Ireland, including National Museums Northern Ireland and with museums around the UK including Mansfield Museum, Creswell Crags and The National Coal Mining Museum for England which have informed the agenda of this project.
The project aims to develop innovative methods and novel applications to record, document and reconstruct the spaces, collections, histories and activities of museums to improve their offer, develop new outlets and engaging material for online and digital groups in user-friendly virtual environments. The project will develop a series of novel and creative research activities in collaboration with different museums, galleries, archives and heritage sites. This will include research investigating the use of technology to transfer heritage assets and collections into interactive displays and all collaboration will be supported by a dialogue with the stakeholders and survey of user-group perceptions.
The Project has three main phases:
Research on current models of public engagement and display in museums, as well as the extent to which the use of digital technology has played a role in attracting new and younger generations of visitors. It will look into the use, methods, impact and user engagement with virtual museums and their collections. This will involve a survey of best practice methods, applications and creative industries in the field.
Engagement with museum stakeholders and user groups through the undertaking of surveys and focus group interviews on the challenges facing museums and heritage sector nationally and internationally. In this phase, we will develop our in-depth understanding of the challenges facing the sector and study potential examples and best practices.
Collaborative Projects will be developed in collaboration with individual or groups of museum partners under different innovation and funding programmes. These projects will be designed to develop and test customised solutions that meet the evidence-based needs of partners with a vision towards future-proofing their viability.
25 September 2020
In this highly anticipated event, MoF team has invited all our museums partners and stakeholders to share their views on the challenges facing the sector and collectively analyse and debate the Sector Survey with a look into uncertain futures in light of the extended impact of COVID-19 impact.
During the Research Seminar, MoF Team has launched the consultation draft of the Sector Survey 2020, based on a compressive study and interviews with over 24 partners and stakeholders from the museum sector nationally and internationally.