Museum, Media, Message

By Eilean Hooper-Greenhill | Go to book overview

11

A museum manager discusses museum communication

Stephen Locke
This chapter is concerned with the issues of managing two types of communication: the communication of the museum’s purpose to its public and communication between museum colleagues. If the former is to be achieved, the latter is crucial. I describe the experience of Hampshire County Council Museums Service in the hope that, suitably considered and interpreted, it will be relevant to others.
Setting the scene: introduction to Hampshire County Council Museums Service
The public face of Hampshire County Council Museums Service is a network of thirteen museums, eight of which are local museums based on a particular model. The other museums differ in various respects, chiefly being more specialized or site-specific. The Service as a whole is supported by a headquarters and collection management centre. This account is concerned with the eight local museums which have been deliberately planned and developed to communicate a particular role. The fundamental basis for our communication is our Statement of Purpose: ‘We aim to inspire and satisfy a deeper level of interest, enjoyment and understanding of Hampshire’s heritage and environment, by developing the full potential of the museum collections in our care, and assisting other organizations with similar aims.’ This Statement is clearly founded on communication of the attributes of museum collections; the provision of assistance to other organizations, although a vital function of the Service, is not relevant to this chapter. Each of our local museums embraces four elements:
1 ‘permanent’ displays which relate to the environment and history of the community they serve. The theme of these displays can be thought of as telling ‘the story of (e.g.) Andover’. Indeed, in a number of our museums this is the formal title of the displays and in all of them it is an internal ‘working’ title used by the people who created them;

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