Museums, social inclusion and the cultural industries

ESRC CASE Business Seminar examining museums and their relationships to social inclusion, cultural industries and regeneration


This website relates to an ESRC Business CASE Seminar held at the Sacker Centre of the Victoria and Albert Museum on the 20th October 2009. The aim of the seminar, and this website, is to foster discussion and research relating museums to issues of social inclusion, regeneration and the cultural industries. This website includes:

Museums, social inclusion and the cultural industries: an introduction

Museums have been widely seen as being rather elitist institutions, although many have long espoused social inclusion agendas, which have also featured within many recent central government policy initiatives. There is some evidence suggesting that museums are visited by a wide range of social groups and that they can help foster social inclusivity and cohesion, but also also claims that museums reproduce existing patterns of social differentiation and exclusion. The degree to which museums can and should seek to be address issues of social inclusion and exclusion has become a subject of debate amongst academics, museum professionals and policy makers. The seminar, and associated website, seek to contribute to such debates by providing a fora where diverge viewpoints could be expressed and debated.

Museums have also figured prominently in recent discussions of the creative and cultural industries, which in turn have been seen as important constituents of national and local economies. Museums  have come to be seen as agents of local growth and regeneration, as in the identification of the so-called 'Guggenheim-Bilbao Museum Effect', and have also figured prominently in projections of national ambitions and identities,  such as bids to become European 'Capitals of Culture' or to host the Olympic Games. New and expanded museums have clearly resulted from the injection of capital associated with these developments, often figuring as 'iconic/signature' architectural features. There have also been claims that such developments have been accompanied by economic regeneration effects, although concerns have also been expressed about their cultural and social impacts of such developments, and whether they in effect run counter to social inclusion agendas. The seminar and website seeks to explore the roles that museums play within the cultural industries and in local and national regeneration/promotion projects, and foster consideration of how such roles may inter-connect with processes of social inclusion and exclusion.

The Seminar

To address these issues, academic, policy makers and museums practitioners were invited to participate in a seminar held in the Hochhauser Auditorium at the Sacker Centre of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Details of the seminar programme and copies of the presentations given are available.


Information related to issues addressed in seminar are circulated via the twitter account GeogMuseums. This replaces the 'Museums, social inclusion and the cultural industries blog'.

Further information

Further information of studies relating museum to issues of social inclusion/exclusion, economic and social regeneration and the cultural industries is also available from this site. Information provided includes:

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School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
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T: 0116 252 3933

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ESRC CASE Business Seminar
The seminar was organised by Dr Martin Phillips in conjunction with Dr Anna Woodham who was in receipt on an ESRC CASE studentship supported by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport. For further information on the seminar and this website please contact:

Dr Martin Phillips, Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester. Tel: +44 (0)116 2523886; Email: