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Character Matters Attitudes, Behaviours, and Values in the Museums Sector Workforce


In 2016, museums in the UK had undergone major change, from reduced funding streams and the development of new business models, to changing approaches to audience engagement and participation. This research, funded by Arts Council England and MGS and conducted by BOP Consulting and the Museums Consultancy, examines the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours held by the UK museum workforce in 2016.

Drawing on a series of interviews, consultations, and analysis of over 2000 online survey responses, this research provides a comprehensive snapshot of the UK museum workforce in 2016 and also provides a baseline for measuring progress.  

This research  identified skills and attitudes needed within the workforce to ensure the resilience and success of the museums in the future.


  • There is new emphasis towards a more diverse, flexible workforce that can bring new skills, energy, and ideas into and across the sector. Employers are looking for “T-shaped” people who can combine a specialism with a broad range of other skills and knowledge. 
  • There is an acknowledged need for improved collaboration in terms of sharing resources, knowledge, and ideas in order to support future visions for the sector. 
  • The priority skills gaps that were identified reflect the overall drive towards improved museum resilience. These skills include a wide range of business and management skills to support income diversification, embedding digital skills across all organisational levels, and better leadership skills across organisations and/ or at all levels within organisations. 
  • A number of key “personal qualities” emerged as priorities for the workforce, such as conscientiousness, optimism, motivation, self efficacy, persistence, curiosity, creativity, and the ability and willingness to learn and collaborate. 
  • Retaining and protecting specialist knowledge and heritage-specific skills, while broadening roles and encouraging collaboration across specialisms, is a significant challenge for the future.
  • Over 70 per cent of the workforce is engaged in training and CPD, most of it initiated by themselves. However, training is rarely targeted to the needs of the individual and the individual organisation. The most common form of CPD reported is attendance at conferences. Training and CPD is also dominated by heritage-specific training, with much lower rates of business or management training reported.
Download the reports
Character matters full report
(PDF, 2 MB)
Character matters Exec Summary
(PDF, 147 KB)
Character matters Delivery Plan
(PDF, 154 KB)