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Realising the Vision Together

An adult with dark skin, an adult with medium dark skin, and a child with medium-dark skin laugh and wave as they lean out of the side of an old red and yellow tram.


Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) published three National Strategy Delivery Plans to provide a structured approach to achieving the aims and objectives of Going Further: The National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries (2012 – 2022).  Realising the Vision was the second delivery plan and spanned from 2015 to 2019. 

Realising the Vision detailed how MGS and the sector would work together to maintain the momentum in building a sustainable future for the sector.

This report was created in October 2019 to evaluate what progress had been made to meet the objectives of the delivery plan. The report highlights and celebrates some of the many achievements of Scotland’s museums and galleries made during this period.  

At the time of this evaluation in 2019, the sector had changed due to the financial and political climate. The number of local authorities that deliver cultural and leisure services through arms-length trusts had increased to 22, reflecting a focus on new ways to generate income and achieve savings. 

Local Authority core grants from the Scottish Government decreased by 9.6% between 2011 – 2019. Larger budgets, often including important regulatory functions, stood relatively still, while over local authority spend on culture decreased by 11% between 2014 – 2019. Visits to museums and galleries increased by nearly 30% during this time, reflecting the popularity of Scottish heritage as a destination: museums and galleries were listed as six of the top ten most visited tourist attractions by Visit Scotland. This corresponds to a reduction in the cost-per-visit to museums and galleries of over 25%. 

The financial constraints within Local Authorities had a knock-on effect on the independent museum sector, as grant funding often sustaining core aspects of museum work was cut.   

In response to these challenges, Scottish museums formed partnerships, explored new ways of working, developed new sources of revenue generation, and engaged with their changing communities and audiences in new and exciting ways – and continue to do so. 

Despite the difficult climate, capital investment in the infrastructure of heritage in Scotland has continued. From the Borders to Stornoway, new museums were established. Museums have found new homes in mixed and multi-use developments, and well-established, well-loved museums underwent redevelopments, extensions, and re-displays. 

This level of investment, led by Scottish Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as Local Authorities and others, was transformational for the sector.  

This report outlines how, despite financial and political uncertainty, the museums and galleries sector and its enthusiastic paid and volunteer workforce have worked tirelessly to achieve the aims and objectives of Realising the Vision. 

Download the report
Realising the vision together full report
(PDF, 813 KB)