Laura Crossley

2016 AFPGR Participant


Feel the squeeze and do it anyway: how museums in England are continuing work with communities during the age of austerity
About Laura

Laura is in the fourth year of a full-time PhD in the School of Museum Studies. She is supervised by Dr Sheila Watson and Dr Suzanne MacLeod. Whilst at the University of Leicester, Laura has been a PhD Student Representative for the School of Museum Studies, taught Masters students at Leicester and at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, been a member of the editorial board of Museological Review, supported the organisation of a Museum Studies PhD conference, and co-curated an exhibition in the School entitled ‘Museum Metamorphosis’.

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Laura's Research

Laura’s research explores the impact of the financial cuts on community engagement practice in museums in England. She has interviewed 19 museum professionals working in nine museums across England to explore:

  • Whether the negative way in which the cuts have been reported is masking what is really happening in museums;
  • What, if anything, museum staff are doing to deal with the cuts, and;
  • Interviewees’ thoughts about the importance of working with vulnerable groups.
Research Findings

Laura has found that museum professionals deeply care about working with vulnerable groups and, therefore, are working in new ways in order to protect this work as much as possible from the cuts. Museum professionals are making more links with community organisations with whom they share knowledge and resources, finding new ways to fund work with vulnerable groups, and more robustly evaluating the impact of their work which, in turn, leads to more funding and more community partnerships.

Laura’s findings suggest that money is not the only factor that is needed for resilient museum practice. Given this, her forthcoming thesis will include detailed exploration of the concept of ‘resilience’ and how this might be redefined to meet the needs of modern museums.

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