Derby Museums is a Happy Museum committed to creating a supportive working environment for staff that results in positive experiences for our visitors. As such we were delighted to be a part of the Happy Museum Study Group with other inspiring venues, sharing the experience of creating organisational Stories of Change.

The process of formulating a Story of Change for Derby Museums took time.  Through open discussions, shared opinions and several packets of post it notes we arrived together at two statements;

  • Build an organisation based on the twin pillars of wellbeing and sustainability.  The full museum team have agency to participate in positive debate about our world and deliver meaningful experiences to the public.
  • To be recognised by the public as an open, participatory organisation that lives sustainably within its financial and environmental means.  Derby Museums is somewhere for people to look at the world in new ways, connect with and give to others, and fulfil their ambitions.

We are passionate about realising this.  It is easy to say broad statements of intent, but we wanted to live these statements through our everyday actions and interactions. I think it is fair to say that many museum professionals have experienced the initial spark of energy and creativity that can result from external workshops and presentations dissipate on returning to the day to day practicalities of our numerous responsibilities.  We wanted to ensure that this wasn’t the case for the Happy Museums Study Group and that the energy of the workshops travelled with those involved back to the museums.

We continue to explore ways of achieving this but so far have identified three stages;


  • At the first opportunity, the team who attended the most recent residential will share the experience at the regular Team Briefs held for everyone at the Museum. 
  • We share practical tools and techniques that have been used during workshops – such as Transformation Cycles and mindfulness exercises, that we found particularly useful. 
  • The team attending courses will tweet their experiences, sharing thoughts and informing other colleagues back at the museum of any specifically relevant resources.


  • We piloted a new staff wellbeing event called Thoughtful Tuesday, an open invitation to all for a free pre-work yoga class.  This was a great success and we look forward to introducing the next phase based on staff suggestions and feedback in the spring.

  • We have connected with the local Play and Recycling Centre, a sustainable shop where local businesses donate left over materials and equipment.  We now have an account with them and source our materials and equipment for public programming events from them whenever possible.

Ongoing Reflection

  • We are introducing a regular meet up for Derby Museums team directly involved with the study group members to connect between residential workshops to review and reflect practice.  We are also exploring ways of visiting the other museums involved in the project and inviting them to some of our events in the coming months.

Involvement in the study group directly impacts all aspects of the organisation.  It involves the work and support of all, whether this be through active implementation of programmes and initiatives associated with it, or through advocacy and support.  There is a core group that meets, made up of Volunteers, Senior Management, Collections Team, Curatorial and Learning colleagues – ensuring a breadth of representation and viewpoints.

We look forward to seeing the full implementation of our Story of Change across the organisation, and sharing this experience with the support of other museums and the Happy Museums team has galvanized the team to make sensible, considered changes.

Chris Keady

Lifelong Learning Programmer, Derby Museums