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Focus On: Place

Each month we’re taking a look at one of the ten priority areas of the strategy for Scotland’s museums and galleries.

This edition is full of resources which will help you and your organisation to make progress on the Place priority area of the strategy.

A large neoclassical house, made of pale red stone, in a rural setting. The house has two large wings and a courtyard with a lawn.

What is the place priority area?

Museums and galleries will connect and collaborate to address the needs of their locality with the aim of contributing to Scotland’s thriving cultural life.

Place-based working is about collaborating to address local needs and support communities to reach their full potential.

Museums and galleries have enormous potential to contribute to place-making. They are spaces for communities to come together and celebrate shared cultural heritage. They support their local economies and address community needs by offering opportunities which include employment and volunteering roles.

In all cases, museums and galleries play a crucial role in furthering the social, economic, and cultural identities that make a place feel unique.

You can read the place priority area and actions in full on our strategy hub.

Find out how your museum or gallery can achieve the place aims of the strategy by exploring the information below.

A long museum gallery with a glass ceiling. Shop fronts on either side of the gallery evoke a 19th century Scottish high street. In the middle of the gallery is a wooden open-top carriage with leather seats.
Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum, South Lanarkshire

Place resources

Place case studies

From snorkel safaris in Stromness to Burns Night celebrations at Ellisland, these case studies highlight how museums and galleries engage with their communities with place-centred projects.

Our Place

This site promotes the benefits of place and place-based working in Scotland. It contains information, tools, and resources to help support the development of places and services that improve health, prosperity, and quality of life.

Developing a People-Centred, Place-Led Approach

This report demonstrates the important role of arts and humanities in building a place-based policies, and offers innovative approaches to achieving a people-centred, place-led approach.

Culture in Communities

Published in 2023, this Scottish Parliament report highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with adopting a place-based approach to culture.

People in Place Practice Network

SURF, Scotland’s Regeneration Forum, leads the People in Place Practice Network. It aims to bring community, local authority, and professional regeneration practitioners together to explore the application of the Place Principle, and is open to everyone with an interest in, or responsibility for, the regeneration of disadvantaged places in Scotland.

The sun breaks through clouds over a coastline of angular rocks. A white lighthouse stands on the shore in the distance.
The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Fraserburgh
Do you do things WITH your community, rather than FOR them?

If people from your community come to you with ideas, do you work with them to implement them? How can your organisation support the priorities of your community?

How well do you know your neighbours?

Museums and galleries can strengthen their sense of place by collaborating on events, exhibitions, and engagement with local groups and businesses.

Where do you consider your place to begin and end?  

Is this reflected in the collecting area outlined in your collections development policy?

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is the living heritage, expressions, knowledge, and understanding practiced by communities and individuals.

Museums and galleries can play a key role in the delivery of safeguarding ICH and ensuring that this remains community-driven and community-defined.

Intangible Cultural Heritage could be a gamechanger for museums

In this new Museums Journal article, our Collections Manager Jacob O’Sullivan outlines the significance of the UK Government’s decision to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland Event

Watch a series of presentations on the challenges and opportunities associated with working on Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Creative Responses to Intangible Cultural Heritage

Watch the recording of our February 2023 event on ICH at St Cecilia’s Hall. Speakers explored how museums and other organisations can safeguard and promote ICH to be a truly inspiring and creative influence.

Case Study: Gairloch Museum’s Festival of Stories

This event enabled Gairloch Museum to invite new and existing audiences into the museum space to share stories relevant to the local area, creating a powerful sense of community.

Our 2022 National Survey for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries shows a decrease in overall visit numbers in 2021-22 when compared with 2019-20. However, the proportion of local visitors is higher in 2012-22.

During the pandemic, travel restrictions and the absence of international visitors resulted in museums developing their interaction with local audiences. These new relationships provide an opportunity for museums to demonstrate their role in place-making.

A simple two-storey building with a grey tiled roof, located in a grassy area near a rocky coastline. Two adults holding hands walk along a road which leads towards the building.

Find out more

Working to achieve the place aims of Scotland’s museums and galleries strategy might also lead to progress on areas such as collaboration, inclusion, and financial resilience.

There’s now a Focus On for all ten priority areas of the strategy. You can visit our blog page to read them.

But this doesn’t mean that our Focus On series is coming to an end. We’re hoping to continue providing you with information on the strategy, and would love to receive your feedback.

Are you enjoying the Focus On format, or would you prefer for us to take this newsletter in a new direction? Please get in touch to let us know what you’d like to see in future editions of our strategy emails.

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