Toolkits, museums and belonging

One of the outputs of the en/counter/points project is an online resource or toolkit to enable museums to reflect on their practice in terms of responding to issues of ‘belonging’. While activity around inclusion, participation and community engagement has become a staple of museum practice in the last two decades, reframing this work as engendering ‘a sense of belonging’ is a more recent development of which there has been little critical debate within the sector to date.

We have begun the process of developing the resource by surveying what others already exist to support museum and heritage practitioners. Across the following pages we discuss resources available to support work on areas related to the broad interests of the en/counter/points project: belonging, migration, wellbeing, inclusion, participation and social justice. As well as reviewing online resources and toolkits which provide an entrypoint and orientation to these specific social agendas, we also consider those which offer support to the more functional aspects of museum work in relation to these themes, for example strategies for measuring impact, for preparing interpretative materials (including those addressing difficult histories), for running education programmes and for developing new audiences. Given the lack of museum-related online resources specifically discussing issues of belonging—a key focus for the en/counter/points project—we also provide a brief survey of resources on this topic produced by other sectors, particularly in pedagogical contexts.

As well as undertaking this survey of existing resources available within and beyond the museum sector, we also plan to evaluate the extent to which museum and heritage sector practitioners utilise such resources. While the creation of a toolkit is a common output of many research projects (as a means of evidencing knowledge transfer) little research to date exists on their take-up. To what extent are these resources employed by museum and heritage sector practitioners? Which tools and resources have proved useful and which have remained on the shelf? The development of the new resource on museums and belonging will therefore be underpinned by the findings of a sector-wide survey undertaken in late 2020, as well as the evaluation of the resources listed in this section.