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Participation and Collaboration: Agreeing Our Values

The connection between people and collections is at the heart of museum practice. At the Fitzwilliam Museum, we understand that our objects, buildings and spaces are of value through the conversations, interactions, encounters and sensations that they inspire. We are committed to encouraging participation from as wide a public as possible in order to ask the right questions and to better understand and develop our collections, programmes and research.

These are the core values that we seek to bring to our collaborative and participatory work. They have been developed collectively within the Museum and are a key feature of the Participatory Practice Manifesto that guides our work internally. They are open to reflection, change and addition. These are values that collaborators should expect us to uphold when we work together. 

We are responsive: By asking ‘what can we do together?’ We are guided by those we work with, and who wish to work with us. We work to ensure mutual benefit which can take many different forms. 

We are welcoming: We welcome a breadth of input through our research practice, engaging with collaborators with a commitment to active, careful listening and responding to their needs.

We are inclusive: We will create spaces that are open to people from a range of backgrounds and with a range of access needs.

We are responsible, honest and open: We are realistic in what we can achieve or commit to and agree expectations at the start of the project. We create space for reflection and feedback throughout our work and are committed to responsible, sustainable and ethical practice.

We take care: We acknowledge the diverse needs of those we work with and convene inclusive spaces which support access in the broadest sense and make use of both the physical and digital realms. 

We are respectful: We value the diverse knowledge and expertise held by those we collaborate with. 

We accept critique: We foreground active and careful listening. We listen, seek to understand and value the opportunity to develop and improve how we work. We acknowledge this work can be difficult, messy and uncomfortable but that this discomfort is necessary to become a more permeable and proactive institution. 

We are proactive: We actively seek to develop equitable relationships that energise our research, collections, programming and displays

These core values were created as part of an action research project which took between September 2022 and August 2023 as we developed our Participation, Practive and Co-creation Research Community. They will be regularly reviewed and updated. The next review is planned for January 2024.

Please contact David Farrell-Banks if you would like any additional information about this work. 

Outcomes of the project

A set of values to guide our participatory research projects

A Fitzwilliam Museum Participatory Practice Manifesto

Other research projects you might like

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