Why do some Museums require a Mentor?
Accredited museums which do not employ a museum professional are required to have a mentor who will provide professional advice to the museum’s governing body.
Accreditation Mentors are hugely valued by the museums they work with and being a mentor provides valuable CPD and networking opportunities.
Why be a mentor?
It’s obvious that mentoring benefits the museum sector – those museums without professional staff have access to advice and they benefit from your skills and experience – but what’s in it for you and your employer?
Being a mentor can give you valuable additional experience. It’s a two-way learning process: the mentor will learn from the different experience and knowledge of those involved with the museum and gain experience of a different type of organisation. If you work in a defined role in a department within a museum, working with a small museum can give you new perspectives on a whole organisation. Or you can develop a specialism further by mentoring a museum with similar collections or services.
Mentoring will give you access to networks and networking opportunities. It builds a stronger sector which supports the exchange and development of professional knowledge and shares expertise.
Mentoring improves confidence in communicating and listening effectively by consciously focusing attention on supporting the organisation to achieve its goals. Such skills are valuable to you and your employers. Mentoring can present cost-effective training and development opportunities.
How much of a commitment is it?
It’s estimated that being an Accreditation Mentor takes around four days per year, and that this should include at least one visit and one attendance at a meeting of the governing body. It is expected that the mentored museum will pay your travel expenses, although if your mentoring is part of your museum service’s role in the community, this might be paid by your employer.
What are the criteria for being an Accreditation Mentor?
You’ll need to fill in an expression of interest form and send it to the Accreditation team at ACE. They’ll check to see that you have at least three years’ relevant professional experience and that you can demonstrate a commitment to continuing personal development.
Accreditation Mentors are now able to serve on a museum’s governing body as a voting member, so if you have a trustee with suitable skills and experience, they can also be your Accreditation Mentor.
If you’re an existing mentor we’d like to know what sort of support you’d like. Are there specific areas you’d like training in? Would you appreciate the chance to meet with other mentors in your area?
Contact us to feedback to us about your mentoring experience or if you’d like to find out more about being an Accreditation Mentor.
Does your Museum need a new Mentor?
If you are seeking a new mentor for your museum, please contact us and we will advertise the opportunity on your behalf.
New Mentoring Opportunities
The following museums are seeking Accreditation Mentors:
The Hovercraft Museum, Gosport
The Hovercraft Museum is the world’s largest collection of hovercraft, based in large hangars on a former military airbase at the edge of the Solent. The volunteer-run Museum is developing from a preservation society into an Accredited Museum and is hoping to secure a lease and funding to develop on their existing site. An Accreditation mentor with governance experience is sought. Contact MDO Katrina Burton for more information.
The Paralympic Heritage Centre, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury
This is a small museum telling the story of how the Paralympic Movement began in the 1940s at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and led on to the modern Paralympic Games with its huge global audience. The museum displays celebrate the stories of the Paralympians, hospital staff and the local Aylesbury community who played a large part in setting up the early Games. The new (fully accessible, of course) museum opened last year and is intending to achieve its Accreditation this year. Contact Vicky Hope-Walker at the Heritage Centre for further details.
Pitstone Green Museum, Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire
This is a small rural life museum in a Victorian farm within a heritage park in countryside near Ivinghoe Beacon. Entirely volunteer-run. Contact MDO Sarah Menary for more information.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, near Aylesbury
A working railway museum with steam trains running on a short section of track, the museum was Accredited last in 2015 and is next due to return in April 2021. A mentor with experience of steam engines or other working objects would be preferred, and/or a sound knowledge of collections care.
The museum may also benefit from additional mentoring from someone with visitor services experience.
The FAST Museum, Farnborough
The Museum displays the collections of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust in a building that was once the Royal Engineers Balloon School. The FAST Museum collection includes annarchive of equipment, machinery, photographs, films, reports and books related to the history of aeronautical science, which grew out of the work of engineers at Farnborough Airfield. Their Accreditation return is due in October 2022.