Since 2012, and with investment from PHF, ACE, CyMAL and the Wales Federation of Museums, HM has undertaken the following core activities:

  • Launched with the publication of the Happy Museum Paper – A Tale of how it could turn out alright.
  • Funded creative interventions in 22 museums[1] supported by a learning evaluation and peer sessions leading to individual development and organisational change (2011 – 14).
  • In 2015 brought together 6 museums[2] in an in-depth 5-year study into the impact of action research and peer learning on individual, organisational and community resilience.
  • In 2017-8, recruited 17 Affiliate[3] organisations to form an expanded Community of Practice, engaging c 200 participants from museum teams, volunteers, partners and communities with the HM principles, developing new practice and sharing learning through facilitated workshops and pairings.
  • In 2020, launched No Going Back, a commission within the Season for Change programme, building on the particular power of museums to draw on past stories of rapid transition and transformation; and inspire museums and their communities to shape new stories and actions to address the climate and ecological emergency.  This peer learning programme brought together 13 museum teams [4] in a community of practice to explore and shape ideas; to offer and receive review and feedback; and to refine their thinking and working.
  • Alongside the peer learning programme we ran a programme of No Going Back conversations  – public sessions in which a range of external contributors invited participants to think afresh about the role and potential of museums.  The conversations are recorded and available here.

In addition, HM has:

  • Undertaken evaluation using the Story of Change taking learning from creative interventions and research to develop a set of common principles – see following pages.
  • Created a suite of case studies, evaluation tools and resources for use by the wider sector with a re-launched website ( to guide practitioners in How to Be a HM.
  • Held regular symposia bringing the Community of Practice alongside representatives from think tanks, NGOs and academia in fields such as energy, public health, economics, psychology and neuroscience.  
  • Shared learning with the wider sector through open workshops around themes including co-production, ethics, greening the museum, measuring what matters and play.
  • Developed partnerships for impact within and beyond the sector including Julie’s Bicycle, Culture24, Battersea Arts Centre, Rapid Transition Alliance and CtrlSHIFT.
  • Partnered with Common Cause Foundation in exploring compassionate values for a range of museums and a focused project working with cultural organisations across Greater Manchester.
  • Contributed to the Museums Environmental Framework and with Kids in Museums, Julie’s Bicycle and the Climate Museum UK on on guidelines for museums working with the youth climate movement.
  • Been active members of the Co-creating Change programme, the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance, Culture Declares and the Centre for Cultural Value.
  • Chaired the advisory panel for the 2019 MA Conference due to its focus – sustainable and ethical museums in a globalised world;
  • Facilitated a group of six museums[5] in Wales working to align HM principles with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act with support from CyMAL (final report here), and in Scotland with an emergent Cantie Museums group, with the backing of Museums and Galleries Scotland.
  • Built international reach with the HM team presenting papers at approaching 100 conferences and events across UK, Europe, Australia, the US and South America.  We have run focused workshops in Portugal, Norway and Switzerland with the latter setting up a national programme
  • Commissioned a ground-breaking piece of econometric research with Daniel Fujiwara of the LSE Museums and Happiness – the Value of Participating in Museums and the Arts measuring the value of museums to people’s happiness.
  • Developed a major research programme – the LIFE survey, which explores how museums create well-being, and how significant that well-being is.

[1] Creative Interventions Abergavenny Museum: Weaving Wellbeing, Beaney House of Art and Knowledge: Paper Apothecary, Bilston Craft Gallery: Craftplay. Ceredigion Museum: Reaping the Knowledge, Ceredigion Museum: The Gospel Ship, Cinema Museum, Lambeth: Creative Community Curators, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Bucks: Green ways from yesterday, Derby Museums: Re:make the museum, Garden Museum, Lambeth: Flowers for love and money. Godalming Museum, Surrey: Collecting Connections, Gwynedd Museum: What’s Your Story?, Imperial War Museum North, Lambeth: Participating with objects. Kirkstall Abbey: Happy project. The Lightbox, Woking: Landscapes of the Mind and Waste Not. London Transport Museum: The Conversation Hub , Manchester Museum: The Playful Museum, Reading Museum: Revealing Hidden Histories and  Where’s Reading Heading?, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol: Shaping a Happy Academy, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust: Sounds in the Garden, Slough Museum: Community conversations, The Story Museum, Oxford: Happy from the beginning, Torquay Museum: Young Sustainability Champions, Woodhorn Museums Trust: Stand up for Woodhorn

[2] Study Group Museums Manchester Museum, Derby Museums, Beaney House in Canterbury, The Lightbox in Woking, Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives, and Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth

[3] Affiliate organisations Oxford University Museums; Design Museum; People’s History Museum; Heritage Team at Toynbee Hall; Seven Stories; The Atkinson; Monmouthshire Museum Service; Mental Health Museum; Chester Zoo; Museum of Homelessness; Culture24; National Trust Midlands; Encounters Arts; Reading Museum. Leicester Museums, Battersea Arts Centre and Leeds Museums and Galleries.

[4] No Going Back Museum Teams Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) and Royal Cornwall Museum (RCM); Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project, Hull City Council and Hull Culture and Leisure; Leeds Museums and Galleries (LMG); Museum of Oxford & Fusion Arts; National Waterways Museum, Canal & River Trust; Oriel y Parc National Park Visitor Centre and Landscape Gallery, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park; RWA (Royal West of England Academy). Bristol; Saltaire World Heritage Education Association (SWHEA). Shipley; Scarborough Museums Trust (SMT); Sustainable Exhibitions for Museums Group [SEFM], V&A, Science Museum (SMG) and Museum of Ordinary People [MOOP]; Tees Valley Museums; University of Cambridge Museums group (UCM): the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) and Museum of Zoology (UMZC); Wakefield Museums & Castles, Wakefield Council.


 Wales Future Generations  Monmouthshire museums, Ceredigion, Storiel, Oriel Ynes Mon, Wrexham Museums and Cardiff Story Museum.