Museums and belonging

A key output of the en/counter/points project was the creation of an online resource - a toolkit - which would enable museum practitioners to consider their work in terms of how it might address or reflect issues of belonging.

The main driver for its creation was that—as our research found—while activity around inclusion, participation and community engagement has become a staple of museum practice in recent years, relating this work to wider issues of belonging is a more recent development and one which has not yet been subject to critical debate within the sector.

This report - prepared in advance of the toolkit - maps the findings of a study into the use of toolkits and similar online resources by researchers and practitioners working with(in) the museum and heritage sector. The study and report was undertaken by Dr Helen Mears and Dr Susannah Eckersley, Newcastle University as part of the HERA-funded research project en/counter/points: (re)negotiating belonging through culture and contact in public place and space (2019-2022), which focused on relationships between belonging and public space. The report includes a review of existing online resources available to those working on museums and belonging, and the results of a targeted survey undertaken with museum and heritage sector researchers and practitioners regarding their use of such resources. The findings of the survey point to the need for sector-specific resources which provide clear orientation to complex issues as well as practical guidance, including by providing examples of practice.

The toolkit - available to use online or download from September 2022 - offers steps to read-reflect-act through provocations, activities, interviews, case studies and resources on belonging, aimed at supporting museum professionals.