What can we learn from Denmark’s museums?
At the start of the summer I spent 5 days in Copenhagen as part of my year long leadership course, Museum Resilient Leadership. Funded by the Arts Council, the visit gave me the opportunity to explore the museums of the city and meet with their Directors to discuss resilience.
Although all the museums were different to us here at the London Museum of Water & Steam, I still found so much to learn.
I went to the National Maritime Museum which sits next to the Castle which was the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. When the Museum was ask to move out of the castle they chose to stay close by, moving into a dry dock next to it. But because of the castle and the area being a World Heritage Site they can’t have anything blocking the site lines, so they have chosen to be completely invisible, and blend into their surroundings
This resonated with me, as sometime I feel our site has been part of the future of Brentford for so long that people don’t see it. How do you make a invisible site visible?
The Head of Exhibitions talked to me about how they were changing their museum to build a new audience: families. They had never visited the Museum when it was in the castle and now it was for families they wanted to become visible. This has meant a new family exhibition, bright graphics visible from the edge of the dry dock and small boats for the families to use at the bottom of the site. And it is working, they are seeing their visitor numbers rise, attracting more funding for their work with families and sharing their collection with more people.
Every museum I went to I found things to think about in relation to us just like this, be it the use of photographs at the National Museum, the effect of a name change at the War Museum or the need to raise income levels at the Science Centre.
I now will take my experiences and reflections and share them with the rest of the museum professionals on my course in a presentation in September, and what I have learnt has already help me shape the planning I am doing for us here, for 2020 and beyond.