Well it’s been a fantastic 5 years as Fed President, so I have to confess to being a little sad now it’s all over, but I can look back on some really exciting times.
The Museum Strategy for Wales came very early on in my presidency of, and I was delighted to sit on the steering group allowing the FED to help drive the Strategy forward.
Times are hard for museums in Wales so when we re-launched the FED we knew a major role would be as an advocacy organisation. In Wales we are fortunate in being able to have regular access to the Minister to discuss sector issues. We respond to many consultations and continue to be a key body providing letters of support for museums against potential cuts. We need to shout about the fantastic work that goes on in museums every day, to help our members we produced an advocacy strategy, tool kit and key messages, which have been regularly reviewed and updated.
In 2010 we began running a grant scheme. Not only is it a fantastic benefit to being a member of the Fed but it also means that we have been much more directly in touch with worthwhile projects happening in museums.
We have also been pretty good at securing grants to deliver projects. In June 2012 we were successful in securing a £100k grant from the Museums Association Esme Fairbairn Collection Fund grant. The project delivers collection reviews of Natural Sciences in Museums across Wales and will create and co-ordinate a public touring exhibition celebrating these collections.
Very recently we have been a joint partner in a successful bid to HLF. Saving Treasures, Telling Stories is a collaboration between Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales and ourselves. . I am really pleased that the FED is a partner in this project that will bring huge benefits to local museums including funding to help purchase artefacts and run community projects .
Both of these projects will further develop the concept of the Distributed National Collection, an idea close to the heart of the Federation. Partnerships have always been critical to the success of the FED and we have established key links with CyMAL and Amguddfa Cymru. We have worked with many organisations over the years, most recently with AIM on their mentor scheme.
Raising our profile has been important. In 2012 we held our first annual conference, which gives our members an opportunity to come together to listen to high quality speakers and find out about ground breaking projects. In 2011 and 2012 we participated in sessions at the MA Conference relating to Museum Strategies and in 2013 on the ‘Distributed National Collection’. When we heard the conference was coming to Wales we encouraged our members to submit ideas for papers and apply for grants to attend. As a result there was a strong Welsh presence and the FED itself was represented on the conference panel and hosted a coffee break. As a direct consequence of the MA Conference the very first Welsh Museums Festival took place. The aim was for our members to promote their museums to the public and to give visitors the opportunity to “Be Amazed” by what we all have to offer. The event provided a huge opportunity for advocacy work by the FED and was a fantastic event on which to end my presidency.
It’s been a fascinating 5 years, never boring, hugely rewarding and I wish my successor an equally interesting term of office.