European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Deep Impact. Demonstrating the Value of Social History Collections

26-27 June 2014

Glasgow and Newtongrange, Scotland | Riverside Museum and National Mining Museum


The annual conference of the Social History Curators Group aims to facilitate the sharing of skills and experiences, and provoke debate around a current theme affecting our members through presentations, interactive workshops and tours. The Social History Curators Group is a membership organisation dedicated to improving the status and provision of social history in museums and the standards of collections, research, display and interpretation.

This year’s conference theme is ‘Deep Impact: demonstrating the value of social history collections’.

For the last 15 years social history curators have led the way in developing methods to actively engage communities with museums, providing access to collections which resonate with community groups, representing and connecting with hard-to-reach individuals and providing personal connections to local people.
In a time of austerity, resulting in competition for funding and resources, we are increasingly asked to evidence how the work that we can do will provide value for money and change people’s lives.
Have financial cuts limited the impact we can make, or are we digging deeper, becoming more inventive, to find new ways to make social history collections more accessible to the public than ever?
How do we demonstrate and communicate the impact and value of social history collections?
SHCG believes there is a great deal to learn from the successes, failures and insights of each other’s work and would like to invite proposals from across the museum and cultural sector that reflect the conference theme.


Proposals for sessions should address one or more of the following areas and questions:


A. Defining impact

1. What is the impact for participants, museums, collections and visitors of working with partners outside the museum to deliver goals and generate advocacy?

2. Small museum, big impact: Small and voluntary museums may lack the finances and resources of large museums but can be a central part of their communities. What examples are there for small museums making a deep impact?

3. How can social history collections be used to promote social justice and change lives?

4. Should we reconsider the value of stored social history collections? Are there examples of ways to improve their relevance and increase their impact on communities and audiences? What roles do research, rationalisation and collections management have to play?

B. Towards a new methodology

5. Should social history curators apply processes, techniques and methodologies from other disciplines? Are there examples of where this has worked well?

6. Can there be a standardised, consistent statistical approach to evaluating social impact? How can the long term legacy of the work we do be sustained?

7. At a time of austerity does the social value of our work need to also have an economic value? What creative solutions are there for social history curators to demonstrate the economic impact of our work?

8. What examples are there of using digital media and social networking to help widen and evidence the impact of social history collections?


To submit a proposal, please fill in the form you can find on the website and return it to Jude Holland and Ciara Canning (,, Conference Organisers by Friday 24 January 2014.


» link to the Conference