The British Museum strategy to 2012

Great Court

The British Museum has just completed one of the most successful years in its history. This was a consequence not only of the hugely successful The First Emperor exhibition, but also the growing benefits of work in recent years to focus activities, improve operations and build international engagement. The Museum’s reputation is high, and its plans ambitious, as it enters a challenging but highly exciting new chapter in its development. The financial position is sound and confidence high, which underpins an aspirational strategic plan for the years to 2012.

In order to ensure that it continues to be successful the Museum has re-evaluated its five-year plan to take account of factors such as the development of ideas regarding the Cultural Olympiad; a new funding agreement; and the decision to develop the north-west area of the Museum. The Museum has identified four key objectives that it will need to deliver in the next five years to further develop its world-class status:

  • To manage and research the collection more effectively 
    The Museum will improve the documentation of the collections through the Merlin Plan and Collections Online, building to 1m images and 2m records online from 2011. It will enhance its storage of the collections by seeking to ensure that 85% of collection storage space is of a very high standard by 2012, building to 100% within ten years.
  • To enhance access to the collection 
    The Museum will develop the capacity to accommodate 6m visits per annum and deliver improvements to the visitor experience; the Museum in Britain programme will develop five key partnerships; and the international programme will provide opportunities for people in Africa, East Asia, India, and the Middle East to share skills and build capacity.
  • To invest in our people
    The Museum will deliver an integrated human resources approach that links career review to training and development, to succession planning and talent management.
  • To increase self-generated income
    The Museum will increase self-generated income from £13.8m to at least £24m by 2012 through growth from exhibition, retail, hospitality, international touring exhibitions, Membership, and fundraising programmes.

These are ambitious objectives and the Strategy to 2012 sets out how, in four key areas, the Museum will meet them. Each Strategic Area has clearly defined measures of success and programmes that will deliver the objectives.

In addition, the Strategy details two projects that are essential in meeting the objectives:

World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre

This project is of fundamental importance in delivering the Museum’s four objectives. The project will address inadequacies in space for special exhibitions, conservation and science, logistics and collections storage. 

A History of the World

The Museum is developing a programme of which the central spine will be A History of the World in 100 Objects, 100 15-minute episodes, based on the British Museum’s collection, to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In turn this will be the platform for a nationwide distributed programme of activity working with partner museums across the UK. Beyond the initial broadcast the British Museum and a number of other museums will present in 2012 substantial ‘histories of the world’ as exhibitions from their own collection.

Download the Strategy to 2012

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