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This is an archive site and is not updated. It represents works conducted by Oxford University Museums funded by Arts Council England between 2012-2018. For information about our current work please visit

Event Summaries

We write up summaries of all our events on our blog featuring tips, resources and thoughts. Check out our event summary posts below, and follow our blog for posts relating to museum practice both in Oxford and throughout the sector.

Digital Learning in Museums

10 July 17 -- jsuess

On 16 June 2017 Oxford University Museums partnered up with DLNET (Digital Learning Network) to host a conference dedicated to digital learning in museums - how digital can be used to enhance museum based learning experience, how digital can extend the reach of museum learning programmes beyond their walls, what works, what doesn't, and what's next!

Individual Giving: Membership Schemes, Major Gifts and Legacies

9 December 16 -- Anonymous

The second event in our Fundraising and Philanthropy series of 2016 took place on Tuesday 8 November in the Ashmolean’s Headley Lecture Theatre. Louisa Pharoah, Director of Development & Research at the ss Great Britain Trust, gave the first keynote of the day. The ss Great Britain carefully balances its roles as a visitor attraction, an archive, and a library as well as running an education programme.

Capacity Building(s)

9 August 16 -- Anonymous
Ashmolean museum ready for event

Museums and cultural organisations are becoming more adept and increasingly creative when it comes to utilising their buildings and spaces. On 28 July 2016 we held a one-day conference to explore how museums and cultural organisations are developing their venue hire offer, experimenting with different uses for their buildings to generate income, and creating unusual, and often quirky places, to inspire and delight public and commercial audiences.

The Art of Fundraising

19 July 16 -- Anonymous
image of conference room

For our first event in our Fundraising and Philanthropy series this year we teamed up with a cohort of early-career fundraisers from the Arts Fundraising Fellowship Programme.  With changes to public funding structures and access to funding streams becoming more competitive cultural organisations are finding the need to diversify is more important than ever.

Risk and Reward: Enabling a Culture of Innovation

24 June 16 -- Anonymous
Risk and Reward photo of the day

The need for cultural organisations to be entrepreneurial is a subject we are passionate about at the Oxford University Museums Partnership. Adaptability in the face of change and the ability to think outside the box on a range of issues from fundraising to organisational structure can help the sector to evolve in a fast-changing environment.

Commercial Enterprise: What's In Store?

1 February 16 -- Anonymous

On 22 January 2016 over 25 delegates from around the UK gathered at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for the latest in the Oxford University Museums Partnership’s Commercial Enterprise series of events: What’s In Store?.  The day looked at how museum shops can create a unique identity which is commercially viable and supportive of their organisation’s culture and philosophy through a range of presentations and discussion.

The Entrepreneurial Museum

17 December 15 -- Anonymous
Entrepreneurial Museum Workshop

Museums are not-for-profit, mission led organisations whose primary purposes include the preservation of our culture, expanding understanding of our world and inspiring our youth. However, as traditional state-funding models become insufficient to sustain the sector, museums must re-invent themselves as businesses, raising income to support their core mission.  Our sector needs to develop a generation of cultural entrepreneurs – people who in the face of diminishing resources are prepared to pursue other opportunities in order for their museums to grow and flourish. 

In Gallery Engagement - Digital vs Analogue

9 September 15 -- jsuess

On 22nd July 2015 we welcomed over 100 delegates from across the UK to the Museum of Natural History in Oxford for a one day conference dedicated to in-gallery engagement techniques. With the increasing focus on mobile apps and digital interactives, we wanted to get to the bottom of what makes a good gallery interactive, digital or ‘analogue’, what engages audiences and leaves them excited about the collections, rather than the medium of delivery.

Session One – Tactile Engagement

Good Enough to Eat

11 February 15 -- Anonymous
Museum of Natural History Cafe

On 28 January 2015, 40 delegates from around the UK gathered at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for the latest in the Oxford ASPIRE:  Commercial Enterprise events series: Good Enough to Eat. The day of case studies and discussion looked at how museums and other arts and cultural venues can make money out of food and drink, in a way that enhances their visitor experience and contributes to their organisation’s overall mission, as well as their bottom line.

Membership Schemes & Corporate Giving

10 December 14 -- jsuess

On Monday 24 September 40 delegates from around the country came to Oxford for an ASPIRE knowledge exchange event exploring Friends and Patrons programmes as well as Corporate relationships.

Friends and Patrons at the Ashmolean

Understanding Audiences

15 September 14 -- jsuess

On the first Friday of September 45 delegates descended on the Ashmolean Museum for a discussion of how museums can better understand their audiences. The aim of the day was to explore how organisations can gain insights into their audiences, actual and potential, physical and virtual, and how this understanding can be applied to engage new audiences and ensure the best possible experience.

University Museums Group Conference

16 July 14 -- jsuess

In late June we were delighted to attend this year's University Museums Group conference with several Oxford colleagues. This year's theme was 'Digital Dimensions' and I was pleased to be able to help put together the conference programme. The conference was held at Bristol University in the Theatre collections, and big thanks to them for managing the event so effectively. 

We are also grateful to Oxford University IT Services for filming the conference for us free of charge so that it is possible to disseminate the amazing learning from the two days.

Trusts and Foundations

21 May 14 -- jsuess

On 28 April 2014, 30 delegates from around the country gathered at Worcester College in Oxford for a day of discussion around fundraising from Trusts and Foundations.

Retail Roundup: What's in Store?

19 March 14 -- jsuess
Earlier this month 35 delegates from across the country made their way to the Ashmolean Museum to discuss museum shops.  Topics for the day included knowing and developing your business; top tips for product development; best practice for forward planning; and sharing details of suppliers and which products have worked for individual museums, and which haven’t.

Legacy Giving

10 December 13 -- jsuess

On 27th November 2013, 25 delegates from across the UK gathered at the Pitt Rivers Museum to share experiences and get top tips on legacy giving in the cultural sector.

Crap in the Attic?

27 November 13 -- jsuess

On 20 November 2013, 60 delegates from within roughly a two hour driving radius of Oxford gathered at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford to discuss the management and use of natural history collections in the tongue in cheek named conference Crap in the Attic? In particular the conference was designed to be an opportunity to discuss possible joint solutions to shared problems facing the natural science collections in the region.

For Weddings and a Film Set

13 October 13 -- jsuess

On 24 September, 34 delegates from across the UK came to the Ashmolean Museum for the second event in the ASPIRE Commercial Enterprise series: For Weddings and a Film Set: An Introduction to Venue Hire.Corporate Events and Weddings.

Multimedia for Museums

21 July 13 -- jsuess
On Tuesday 16 July 2013, 14 delegates from across the UK gathered in Oxford for a workshop on developing multimedia content for museums.  Delivered by Oxford University IT Services on behalf of Oxford ASPIRE, this free workshop was aimed at individuals with no experience of creating audio of video content.

Presentation Skills

11 July 13 -- jsuess

This June, Oxford ASPIRE teamed up with the Oxford Learning Institute to deliver two Presentation Skills Workshops as part of our Managing Museums workshop series for museum and cultural sector professionals. The workshops were facilitated by Rosemary Dearden.

What's in Store - Event Roundup

28 January 13 -- jsuess
Braving sleet and snow, over 30 delegates - from as close as Oxford and as far as Glasgow - made their way to the new visitor centre at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on the 14th of January to discuss museum shops.  Topics for the day included knowing and developing your business; top tips for developing your shop on a shoe string; best practice for forward planning; and sharing details of suppliers and which products have worked for individual museums, and which haven’t.

Doing the best you can: thinking about fundraising and philanthropy

4 January 13 -- jsuess
On 12th December ASPIRE hosted its second knowledge sharing event for museum professionals, Doing the best you can: an introduction to the ASPIRE fundraising series.

Delegates – from Bedfordshire, Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Reading, Warwickshire and Worcestershire – were taken through the day by Judy Niner from Development Partners, a consultancy working with over 80 different organisations on areas such as fundraising strategy, trust applic

How to make the most of your Museum Shop – advice from the Ashmolean

10 October 12 -- jsuess

Last Friday Jeremy Ensor, Commercial Director at the Ashmolean Museum, was on the online panel for the Guardian Culture Professional Network’s live chat “Howto make the most of your Museum Shop”.

Joined by commercial gurus from the Victoria and Albert, BALTIC, Shakespeare’s Globe and Chiltern Open Air Museum, for 2 hours the panel fielded questions and provided their top tips on shop lay out, product selection, customer experience and taking your shop online.

We’ve brought together some of Jeremy’s best tips from the day’s discussion!