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Frequently Asked Questions

Museum Registration Scheme

Can you send me some information about the Museum Registration Scheme?

You can find information about this online in the Introduction to Registration and Registration Guidelines.

A new Registration scheme is currently being developed and information about progress can be found in Developing Museum Registration.

I run a museum, is it eligible for Registration?

One of the key requirements of the Registration scheme is that museums should be run for the public benefit. In practice this means that the museum should have charitable status or be an exempt charity such as a university. Museums run as businesses are therefore not eligible. You may find it useful to look at the Introduction to Registration and the Registration Guidelines which give more information about the requirements of the scheme. You could then discuss a possible application with the Museum Council or Regional Agency which covers the area in which the museum is based. A new Registration Standard is being developed, and is expected to be launched in early 2004.

Is the Registration application form on the MLA website?

The form is not on the website but is available as a printed copy or can be emailed to you once it has been agreed with your Area Museum Council or Regional Agency that an application should be made.

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Museum Issues

How many museums are there in the UK?

There is no exact figure for the number of museums in the UK. Estimates range from 2-3,000.
There are about 1865 museums on MLA's Register of museums, of which approximately 90% fully meet the Registration standards and the remainder are working towards meeting them. Exact figures have not been given here as they change slightly after each meeting of the Registration Panel which takes decisions on applications each month.

I am an architect designing a new museum. What guidance is there on museum building and design?

The first port of call for an architect designing or refurbishing a museum is the client brief which client and architect should ideally develop together. Published sources of advice include:

  • Environmental Management: guidelines for museums and galleries, May Cassar, Routledge, 1995
  • Museum Environment Energy, (Ed) May Cassar, The Stationery Office, 1994
  • Developing a successful museum building (Ed) May Cassar, Royal Armouries, 2000
  • The manual of museum planning, (Ed) B Lord, Butterworth, 2000
  • You could also consult http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sustainableheritage/

I am thinking of setting up a museum. What advice can you give me?

There are many factors to be taken into account when considering setting up a museum. Some of the most important are:

  • sufficient financial resources and a committed and knowledgeable group of people to keep the museum running
  • suitable premises
  • a collection of objects which is available to visitors and other users
  • awareness of the purpose and aims of the museum

You may find it useful to read Big Questions, Big Answers 2002, available from the Scottish Museums Council, 20-22 Torphichen Street, Edinburgh EH3 8JB tel 0131 229 7465, email inform@scottishmuseums.org.uk

The Introduction to Registration and the Registration Guidelines on the MLA website also provide information on minimum standards for museums.

Are there any restrictions on the use of the name 'museum'?

There are no trademark or licensing restrictions. You may find it useful to look at the Introduction to Registration and the Registration Guidelines on this site which provide information on minimum standards for museums.

I run a gallery which shows exhibitions of artists' work. Can MLA publicise our exhibitions or help with grants?

MLA's remit in relation to museums covers only public museums and galleries with permanent collections. You should contact the Regional/National Arts Board for the area in which your exhibition gallery is based.

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