UKRI launches Digital Innovation and Engagement fund for museums

Overhead View Of Busy Museum Interior With Visitors

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has partnered with the Museums Association and creative design agency The Liminal Space to launch a new £200k Digital Innovation and Engagement fund for museums: a first for the UKRI’s central Public Engagement team.

UKRI is committed to supporting researchers, innovators and institutions to engage under-represented people, communities and places with research and innovation, a commitment shared by our new partners.

2020 has been an extraordinary year, one that has had, and will continue to have, significant long-term impacts on how museums function, their audiences and their role in society.

Following consultation with the sector, UKRI’s two-strand programme aims to support museums and galleries during this unprecedented time of change and to help them to creatively explore and innovate for the audiences of the future.

The new fund will offer museums and galleries grants of up to £50k to scale up and evaluate the innovations they’ve so adeptly designed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

An associated programme, ‘Mindsets for Museums of the Future’, will support museums and galleries to probe and action their own post-COVID futures through a series of workshops and networking opportunities.

A journey of change

In the context of a climate emergency, Black Lives Matter, and a global pandemic, the shifting habits of museum audiences provide a catalyst for change in the sector not seen since World War Two. UKRI will be supporting museums on this journey of change, innovating and testing approaches to deliver more diverse content to more people.

UKRI’s Head of Public Engagement, Tom Saunders said:

In these unprecedented times, museums are at a critical crossroads, focusing on reopening while continuing to innovate in the brilliant ways we’ve seen during lockdown. UKRI looks forward to working with the cultural sector on shaping a new cultural future and in creating a more inclusive and accessible research and innovation landscape.

The Museums Association Director Sharon Heal said:

At their best museums can help us learn from the past, understand what’s happening now and help us to shape the future. Museums have worked really hard during the current crisis to connect with their communities in new and meaningful ways. We are delighted to be working with UKRI to support innovation in engagement which we hope the whole sector can learn from.

The Liminal Space Director, Sarah Douglas said:

The mindsets were developed in conjunction with the sector, and those around it, at an extraordinary moment in our history and offer up an innovative and actionable way of envisaging the future of the museum. We’re delighted to be partnering with UKRI and the Museums Association on this exciting new programme and look forward to working with the sector on bringing the mindsets to life.

Further information

From 11th November 2020, full details of the Digital Innovation and Engagement for Museums funding opportunity will be available on the Museums Association website.

The Liminal Space’s research ‘Mindsets for the Future of Museums’ can be found on their website.

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