The distributed Centre: A Museum of Britishness

I’ve recently subscribed to the MLA News e-mail list, on which the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council of the UK pushes out a newsletter once or twice a month. It’s a very interesting view into the UK LAM community, and attendant political developments. The latest installment features an entry (online here) on planning for a Museum Centre for British History, and to my big surprise, I found out that under that heading, you won’t find the details for a massive new building project.

The MLA has consulted a range of leading experts, and has recommended the idea of a federated organisation that could draw on the collections in museums, libraries, archives and heritage sites across the UK to capture the story of Britain. The proposed centre would co-ordinate research and scholarship, plan thematic programmes, and schedule shows and events in places across the country.

Roy Clare, the MLA Chief Executive, is quoted as saying:

The Museum Centre for British History would be a national federated organisation (including museums, universities, scholars, research institutions etc), supported by a very small staff working in existing premises, that would pull together research, planning and programming around the theme of Britain’s story.

Pulling together the strands of British History from within existing libraries, archives and museums provides a unique proof-of-concept for how these entities can collaborate to tell this story. I am looking watching this new Centre take shape, and the lessons for substantive collaboration.