Museums’ community engagement schemes, austerity and practices of care in two local museum services

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Morse, Nuala ; Munro, Ealasaid (2018)

In recent years geographers have paid attention to the practices and spaces of care, yet museums rarely feature in this body of literature. Drawing on research conducted with two large museum services – one in England, and one in Scotland - this paper frames museums’ community engagement programmes as spaces of care. We offer insights into the practice of community engagement, and note how this is changing as a result of austerity. Our focus is on the routine, everyday caring practices of museum community engagement workers. We further detail the new and renewed strategic partnerships that have been forged as a result of cutbacks in the museum sector and beyond. We note that museums’ community engagement workers are attempting to position themselves relative to a number of other institutions and organisations at the current moment. Drawing on empirical material from the two case study sites, we suggest that museums’ community engagement programmes could be seen as fitting within a broader landscape of care, and we conceptualise their activities as expressions of progressive localism.
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