How can we help museums reach wider audiences?
We know that museums are determined to connect more deeply with their communities: opening up their collections, bringing in more voices, and sharing more stories.
We’ve funded a wide range of projects that help them reach more people – but we cannot meet demand without further support.
These projects might be exhibitions that are designed to engage underrepresented audiences, or clever partnerships between museums, galleries and arts organisations that help them bring new visitors through their doors.
They might even be projects that help museums to work with other partners, like community groups, NHS facilities or adult learning networks, so that they can engage new audiences in different ways.
Take a look at a few recent highlights below. Can you help us fund more projects like these?
Feeling Her Way by Sonia Boyce, featuring Errollyn Wallen, Jacqui Dankworth, Poppy Ajudha and Tanita Tikaram. Installation view, Leeds Art Gallery, 25 May – 5 November 2023. Commissioned by the British Council for the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 2022.
© Sonia Boyce / DACS 2023. Photo: Rob Battersby. Courtesy Leeds Art Gallery
More exhibitions that resonate with local communities
Thanks to Art Fund members, we gave a grant to support the UK tour of Sonia Boyce’s exhibition Feeling Her Way, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
The exhibition came to Turner Contemporary in Margate and Leeds Art Gallery in 2023, enabling UK audiences to experience this unique, immersive installation which celebrates the work of five great musicians: Jacqui Dankworth, Poppy Ajudha, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram and Errollyn Wallen.
The opening weekend at Turner Contemporary received 26% more visitors than any exhibition opening at the gallery since 2017, and over 98,000 people visited over the course of the show.
"This stunning exhibition has really connected with our local communities. Leeds has got a great music scene, and Feeling Her Way is all about celebrating the Black British female voice"
Looking at the collection at the Barber Institute
© Barber Institute of Fine Arts
More ways to reach people
During the pandemic we were able to support a trailblazing project at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, ‘Barber Health’: an arts, health and wellbeing programme for local people, which even saw the museum hire a ‘nurse in residence’.
Bringing specialist knowledge from a healthcare setting into the museum, the Barber’s nurse in residence used the museum’s collection to start conversations about health and wellbeing, including difficult topics, such as grief and loss.
The project enabled the museum to build on their relationship with the medical school at the University of Birmingham and open up new ways of connecting with local people, including people living with dementia and their carers.
Launch of Black Chiswick through History display at Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, 2023
© Andre Pattenden. Courtesy of Chiswick House & Gardens Trust
More projects that bring people together
With our help, Chiswick House & Gardens were able to present ‘The Heart of Design’, an exhibition curated by local arts organisation Art Jar, featuring new artworks by local artists and community groups.
Part of Chiswick House’s wider ‘Black Chiswick through History’ project, The Heart of Design saw artists respond to the theme ‘300 years of built and natural design’ – exploring how design within the historic house and gardens has been inspired by the exchange of ideas, art and traditions from across the globe.
By encouraging collaboration between artists and local people, the project aims to encourage more visitors from across the borough to feel a sense of ownership of the space.
“Empowering community groups through creativity is at the root of our practice. It has been a pleasure to work with local artists and Hounslow groups to showcase the talent of the Borough and fascinating to see how participants have responded to the theme”
Can you help us make more projects like these a reality?
With visitor numbers across the UK still 20% lower than in 2019, museums are turning to us for support to connect with new audiences.
This is vital for their future.
With your help, we can fund the next wave of grants that will empower museums to share their collections more widely, build lasting connections with their communities, and reach more visitors in 2024 and beyond.
Will you give today?
Any donation, large or small, will go towards helping as many museums as possible. Thank you.