Course 2

Working with Collections

Free - Enroll now

About this course

Collections work is vital, and our collections underpin all aspects of museums. In this course we will look at some of the ways in which we can use our collections to keep them relevant for the modern world and represent our audiences better.  

We hope by providing a mix of information, exercises, resources and signposting you will be able to develop your confidence and competence around your own collections practice. 

Working with Collections supports the Public engagement and benefit and Stewardship of collections competencies in the Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA). For more information about the AMA please click here.

Dynamic Collections Practice

Museum collections evolve and change in their nature, rather than to remain static. This course will help you understand the importance of this how it can be achieved.

Contemporary Collecting

Contemporary Collecting is vital for a museum to remain relevant to society and it is a process that should be ongoing and involve audiences and communities. This course will help you understand some of the approaches to contemporary collecting.

Interpretation and Use

The objects themselves are only one aspect of a collection, the memories and stories an item can unlock from an individual or community is often the real value of the collection. This course will help you find your role in this process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to go through this course?

5-15 hours

Do you have to complete each lesson in order?

The course has been designed so that there are no mandatory lessons and the lessons can be completed in whichever order is most meaningful for you.

Do I have to complete all of the exercises?

The exercises have been developed to help you reflect, capture and focus your learning. In exactly the same way as the lessons none of the exercises are mandatory.

Is there an opportunity to discuss my learning with Museums Association staff?

If you want to talk to a member of the Museums Association about collections practice then email

Is there a course start date?

There isn't a course start date. This is an open course that you can start and finish whenever you want. As an individual Museums Association member you have full access to the content.

Where can I find more information about collections?

We have a range of resources available on our website

Is there an opportunity to discuss our learning with other learners?

We have a discussion area at the end of each lesson and this is a way to discuss the content, your reflections, the impacts on your professional practice as well as seeking insights and information from others.

Meet the expert

Sarah Briggs

Sarah is the collections development officer at the Museums Association, she has over a decade of experience working in collections management and has worked with a variety of collections types from archaeology to zoology.


Donnchadh Gethins and 1856 others have booked this class

David Nash

Nicola SIkora

Mike Tyler

Excellent and very accessible.

Dr Nadia Randle

Useful tools on participatory practice that I hadn't seen before. Good for those new to the sector who are looking for a brief summary of these areas and a place to start from to learn more.

John Rochester

A broad range of topics and points of view from museums across the British Isles, but they show how we all have a lot of work to do, even if that only starts out as a reflective exercise. The material has convinced me that there is a lot of work ahead but with the right frame of mind to make the collections a usable resource for all sorts of audiences then we are on the right track. Thanks.

Shannon Wilson

I liked that I was encouraged to reflect on topics at various points throughout the course so that I could think about how to apply what I had learnt in practice.

Clare Lehovsky

katherine Dowd

I found the videos very interesting and the highlighted articles. The little quizzes really helped reinforce my understanding.

Manuela Portales Sanfuentes

I really enjoyed it! I was expecting more about the objects themselves instead of reaching/educational strategies, but in the end it came up the be really helpful.


really informative, with plenty of information. Gained new knowledge.

Kate Fraser

As a museum volunteer just entering the museums sector, I found the course very useful in giving me a grounding in current issues surrounding working with collections

Margaux Wong

Nina Healey

Nicola Wilson

I particular found the section on participatory practice useful. I read the Power to the People framework when it was first launched and this course has encouraged me to revisit and use the framework. I'll definitely be encouraging my colleagues to sign up to this course :)

Mel Cookson-Carter

Good content, really useful for refreshing my knowledge of collections and great insights into peer practices.

Madeleine Howard


Karelle Bird

Great, informative, clear, inspiring

Marion McCrindle

I appreciate the links to professionals and articles as well as MA documents. I appreciate also the breadth of the role and the fact tat you can't include everything It would have been nice to have had a curator talk through how they organised an exhibitions - the issues arising and how these were overcome. Much of the existing programme would have fitted in with this too.

Hannah Baker

Lynsey Ford

Sophia Patel


Tina Pittock

I am at home like almost everyone else owing to Covid-19. I am having museum withdrawal symptoms and so have just taken this course. Well Done MA. Really inspiring and educational.

Rebecca Green

David Laws

Good grounding in Collections policy and workings. Filled in gaps for me and gave a lot of useful information.

Rachael Rogers

Caroline Wilkins

A really interesting course with lots of useful information. I have a much clearer understanding working with collections now.

Ian Wilkes

Hannah Clarke

Nicola Jones

As an Interpretation Trainee with a heritage railway I learnt a lot about the museums industry and the role of museums and how that relates to heritage sites like the railway too.

Abigael Flack


RAF Museum

Pravendra Solanki

Charly Robson

Laura Biddle

Elzbieta Bochenek

Rosemarie Gant

I think this is an excellent introduction. As a new person to the sector I have learned a huge amount from this course but also come away with a lot of elements that I want to research further.

Sophie Strong

Victoria Mansfield

Hannah Keddie

Sarah Kingham

Paola Cacciari

Ellen Weineck

Jessie Lloyd

Catherine Elizabeth Grant

Sally Webb

rebecca jaffri

very constructive and useful

Brigitte Hurlock

Matthew Johnston

David Clifford

holly poncini

More please!

Lisa Burton

Josephine Dowding

It would have been good to have more videos showing the insides of stores. I also would have liked more practical advice on handling objects. But very good - thanks!

Julia Teshmer

Dominic Rogan

Loved the course materials and way it helps to guide and develop idea's around where you want your collections to go and what they can be. The coverage of the basics of good collection development, management and care is really clear and concise too!

Eve Sladdin

Thank you for putting together this course. I really enjoyed taking it, it built upon the knowledge that I have already gained and allowed me to reflect on previous roles and experiences. I feel a confidence moving forwards to engage with and implement the ideas and concepts surrounding how we work with and interpret our collections. I felt that some of the doing exercises were aimed too specifically at someone currently working within a hands on collections role. If these were broadened slightly they could be more applicable to a more diverse audience of people already working within the sector but also those looking to get into the sector or possibly between roles. A suggestion of regional networks to join for further engagement would also be welcome.

Melissa Munro

The course was incredibly helpful in opening up my thinking and understanding of collections. I feel it has pushed me to think about working more collaboratively with communities in developing future collecting. It may be helpful to add more interactive exercises within the course to really stretch your learning.

Stephanie Harper

I'm a PhD researcher at Ulster University. I work in the area of narrative and interpretation in regards to collections in Ireland. I found this course so helpful and relevant to what I am working on, with great up to date and relevant references included.

Ben Jones

Connie Wells

Such an interesting and inspiring course, a great introduction to working with collections!

Fraser Hale

Good mix of media and learning styles. Personally preferred the reflective learning exercises. Good to hear perspectives from a range of professionals in the sector.

Weronika Tupaj

It was really inspirational, informative, and something new (I feel like nowadays people talk about museums in terms of exhibitions rather than collections). Thank you for providing that! :)

David Bardsley

Abigail Morris

It was very helpful and thought provoking! Many thanks

Jayne Lister

Claire Frampton

I really enjoyed this course, a chance to reflect about what I already know and how I could develop.

Emma Moger

Katie Small

This course was a great refresher for me- ideal to do during lockdown!

Pascal Lafargue

Alexandra Claridge

Max Mudie

Jo mclaughlin

Excellent course that has really made me think about how to engage with our collections better and how to get the public involved. Would recommend for anyone working with or interested in working within the culture sector.

Gabrielle Gale

I found the course very useful, well paced and structured and it gave me lots of points for reflection. I am inspired to really embed what I have learnt into my practice.

Penny Arscott

Joanna Taylor

Benjamin Drew

It was an excellent course. I learnt a lot on this course and was even surprised by how much more it made think about collections work and what it details and how widespread it is. Areas of interest I developed more on was de-colonisation, interpretation and disposals (this last one is not a bad word!). Was well put together and engaging. Well paced and full of relevant documents and videos. Highly recommend this course.

Cláudia Sofia Marques Furtado

Minji Kim

Anna Marzemin

Rebecca Hill

Very good course and it gives a good overview and detail on the different aspects of museum collections. As someone who has yet to start their career within the sector it was useful to get a greater understanding of the work that goes into collections and what is still left to achieve.

Daniel Poxon


Tahnee Blakemore

Very informative and covered a wide range of useful topics.

Jonathan Green

Katherine Pell

Sue Rhodes

Really though provoking and interesting online course. I found the links to case studies, guidance and policy documents really helpful and found it was pitched at just the right level and got me thinking about my own work.

Miss Helen Reynolds

Enjoyed the course. Especially liked the piece about contemporary collecting as I think this is an important subject to consider especially now during these difficult times. It's vital to document what is going on in the present as this will become tomorrow's history.

Matthew Anstis

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to challenge my knowledge of collections, how vital they are to the core of museum work and potentially the keys to open collections further to the communities that benefit them.

Rebecca McGrath

Really useful resource, thanks!

sonia sagoo

The course was brilliant. Lots of thought processes to think about the way we look at collections.


A great course that gave me new knowledge and challenged me to think about what I need to do to develop my knowledge of collections work further, thank you!

Fran Penny

Really good mix of content. Museum collections is only a small part of my role so it's provided me with a refresher on collections practice. Great to do whilst in furlough, has kept my brain active!

Laura Waters

Thank you for the refresher and the signposting to lots of useful and inspirational resources.

Cathryn Lane

Well organised with excellent resources.

Piroonmas Kajorndechakul

Margaret Barclay

Great overview! Would welcome more reflective exercises earlier on to get maximum benefit to myself and my current role.

Lucy Ward

Selina Metzler

Thank you for this well structured course. Full of useful documents and voices from the sector.

Katherine Robson

Rachel Bateson

An interesting and thought-provoking course, which is a good introduction or refresher on collections practices.

Freya Spoor

I thought the course was good and I like that it presented a range of material. It has been useful to work on my CPD whilst I am furloughed from my job as an assistant curator. I thought the interface could have been better, allowing easier navigation between sections.

Paige Dixon

Very useful for aspiring museum and heritage professionals!

Some overlap with working ethically. But a wealth of information. Video clips were interesting addition and about the right length. Maybe more from participatory groups.

Gill Ross

Absolutely loved it, thank you. I've always been passionate abour how to bring the collection closer to the community and this course has helped to equip me with the skills to do this

Elizabeth Gray

Rebecca Laverty

Martina Santillan

The information in the course is really useful and relevant, really applicable. It has inspired me to use this knowledge to try to make a proposal to museums in Mexico, especially in the contemporary art museums which is where my expertise lies and where, I believe curatorial voices are stronger than other stakeholders. I would like this to change.

Karen Johnston

Chelsea Eves

Really informative. A nice combination of exercises, resources and interviews to really make you think about how collections should be being used.

Heather Bennett

Very relevant and useful content supported by excellent resources, and with complimenting activities to fully engage with the material

Olivia Carrington-King


Thank you for a thought provoking course. I found the decolonisation of collections elements particularly relevant and useful.

Alexander Silver

Meshellae Payne

Rosanna Harrison

good length, interesting exercises to do and extremely apt contextually at the moment.

Emma Crew

Great course. The font for the MA documents included was very hard to read so I had to give up on a couple but all the docs from other organisations were fine. Really interesting.

Sanaz Mazloumi Shomali

Caroline Grounds

Glenn Wheeler

Philippa Wood

Sophie Rogers

Very informative and easy to complete.

Vicen Carrio

Nick Ellis

To me the course seemed to be a set of web-links rather than a course. I would have liked to see more self test questions and perhaps a dedicated area on the MS web-site as a forum where participants could interact

Sally Newton

Excellent and thought provoking with a good mix of exercises and information

Peter Dilley

Anna Bishop

Louise Bowen

Kasey Ball

Charlie Davis

Rosaleen Hughes

I enjoyed the course and thought it had a good balance of different types of exercise. Some of the documents were a bit long or had a lots of 'Museum jargon' in. In the videos (which seemed to have been filmed at an event?) there was quite a lot of background noise.

Kristy Turner

Caroline Ingram

Really great and imformative course that applies a modern look on collections that is very relevant in todays working practices.

Milagros Perez Varela

David Crowther

Stacey Clapperton

Fiona Grimshaw

Donald Bell

I thought the course was excellent as an up-to-date assessment of how Museums can utilise to the full the potential of their collections and others held in the wider community. Some of the professional ethical issues in managing collections well, were very relevant and interesting

Alexandra Rose

Vanessa Oakden

Sionyn Foulkes Jones

Very informative course that will aid me in volunteer activity at penmaenmawr museum.

Sarah Albany Parker

I have completed this course feeling encouraged, curious, and accomplished!

Victoria Rodrigues

Very thorough course, especially when covering topics such as disposal or contemporary collecting. However, I felt that there could have been more discussion of how collections relate to those working in front of house roles within museums (who do not have that much input in how collections are managed, yet are expected to be extremely knowledgeable about them when communicating with visitors). The section that looks at the colonial history of collections and issues surrounding restitution/repatriation could also be revised or expanded to include the Black Lives Matter and Museums Are Not Neutral movements. I believe it is vital to interrogate not just the structural racism at the heart of an institution's past, but how this affects both the current and future used of a collection. While I think this was touched upon a little, the course would be better for having a dedicated section on the subject.

Dorian Knight

Really useful


Eleanor Thomas

Great course, very accessible and a great variety of additional resources to watch, read and participate in.

Caterina Scott

A very interesting course for budding museum professionals. It has made me think in more depth about how we can use collections and help communities be more involved in their Interpretation.

Laura Feltham

Really well put together. easy to access and a nice mix of learning styles. I don't working in an institution with a collection so I appreciated the questions that put things into a hypothetical situation or looked at our personal "collections"

Heather Lomas

Zoe Utley

emma gibson

Anne-Marie Ashman

An interesting and stimulating course giving the wider picture of issues facing museums and looking forward. Thank you.

Will Prentice

Extremely thought provoking and useful

Silvia Telmon

Stefanie dickinson

Lots of interesting and useful content presented in a varied and engaging way.

Joanne Kent

Nicole Hickin

Ellie Alexander

Harriet Kerridge

This was a really useful and informative online course. I am a museum volunteer, and I am hoping to build a career within the sector. This course gave me some really good core information about Collections Care, Contemporary Collecting etc. that will hopefully be useful in the future.

Amber Doxey

Hanley Quintrell

A lot of typos (including nonsensical and/or redundant words) in the material, alongside a lot of broken links, proved for a frustrating experience even though the material was useful. I would also like, for accessibility reasons if nothing else, alternative audio to be provided due to the heavy amount of reading required - while not a problem for me personally, this would entirely exclude dyslexic participants and those with other learning disabilities which cause them to struggle with such a high amount of reading.

Hannah Barker

This was a create course in introducing me to collections management and getting me to think about it in practical terms.

Chloe Jo Fowler

Julia Buckley

An excellent course which was very well structured and engrossing. It helped to consolidate some knowledge while presenting new perspectives and encouraging me to reflect on my approach to museum collections. The links to factsheets and reports were incredibly helpful.

Eleanor James

Emma Cowdell

Caroline Hall

a great foundation in the collections management knowledge skills-sets employed by people across all areas of museums.

Vivienne Joncourt

Great course! Gave me a lot to think about. One issue - since the recent MA website overhaul, some of the links to articles etc. in this course are no longer working. Sometimes it was hard to find the resources by other means. Have had the same issue with the Ethics course

Katie Morrison

Lydia Wooles

Kaja Marczewska

Natascha Allen-Smith

Luis Claudio Lopez Morillo

Sarah Randle

I found this course extremely useful as an introduction to working with collections. The topics covered were wide ranging and engaging, supplemented with relevant articles and videos. I found it very easy to follow and enjoyed the course thoroughly!

Tabitha Lawrence

Super helpful for someone just learning their way around museums as a sector, thank you for putting it together! I feel very inspired and learnt a lot from it.

Suzie Walker

Nick Jones


Sarah King


Was dynamic, acknowledge and make think in a new way to develop and research in the collections nowadays. Totally worth it :)

Kate Murphy

Overall a very good introduction to working with collections and some nice articles and case studies. I liked the video content, perhaps more case study videos would be helpful, as it was a little heavy on reading in the first few modules.

Samantha Walker

Megan Schlanker

Sally Carter

A good overview of the issues but would have liked some more detailed content - not just links to other publications and soundbites.

David Martyn

Excellent - very useful

Conal Priest

Ellinor Gray

June Palmer

very interesting and informative

Oliver Martin

Angie Bolton

I've read a huge amount and taken even more notes, but I realised each time I worked on the course, the next day that learning had an impact on my work.

charlotte bell

Hannah Bunyan

Fang Zong

Toby Buckley

Fantastic course! Very informative and packed with resources.

Jennifer Irving

Mary Owen

Interesting and inspiring. A pity we can't do much in the Museum at the moment due to Covid.

Rebecca Penfold

Paul Ellis

Maya Buechner

Gemma Kelly

Fantastic and useful course, lots of interesting reading which inspires further study and future career aspirations.

Louise McAward-White

Emma Gill

Started and completed this course during the lockdown months and it did not disappoint! As a museum professional working with collections I found the sections that focused on the Collections Trust and the guidelines for collections management, SPECTRUM standards, collection reviews and disposals particularly interesting and useful to my role. Great balance in the methods of learning in this course and always interesting to hear different perspectives from professionals in the field on such an important aspect of museums. Would have loved a online/pdf certificate on completion of this course though, would have been great to add to your portfolio/add as a reference for your CPD!

Joanna Bellis

Good refresher, especially on doing a Collections Review and Co-Production. A section on making your interpretation accessible to all would be a good addition - or a new module maybe?

Daniel Johnson

This course was really helpful in thinking about museum collections and best practice going forward.

Dean McColl

Maria Halatsis

Gemma Batchelor

I think more questionnaires and quizzes would help, something a bit more interactive is needed !

Elania Pieragostini

Charlotte Rowbotham

Ani Sutton

very good - really good overview with some really good case studies to think about...particulary like the quote that staff have the knowlege and skills and should 'enable access' not be gatekeepers...if only!

Finlay Raffle

Connor Welham

Guillermo Martin Calvo

Ainize Moschynski

Great introduction to people wanting to learn more about working with collections and how to make these fairer, more engaging and inclusive. The course is packed with useful resources. Really enjoyed it!

Emilia Coviello

Ellie King

Liz Knight

Really helpful and inspiring. Lots of great guidelines and opportunities for discussion, consideration and consolidation, whether you currently work within a museum setting, or not.

Chloe Chuck

Janice Gooch

Great online course in bite size pieces to get you thinking and discussing.

Macey Palmer

Carli-Lyn Vermani

Fantastic course!!! I feel much more confident in the work I do.

Fiona Woolley

Excellent content that can be worked through at your own pace. The museum essentials course has allowed me to refresh my knowledge and will help focus my collections work as I look to continue my career.

Matty Cambridge


lisa stuart

Elizabeth Elliott

Emily Ward

Rebecca Bussey

Millie Doyle

Chukyi Kyaping

Jane ApThomas

Stimulating, inspiring.

James McLean

Emma Akinlusi

Jessica Venner

Ceri James

Abigayle Smyth

Mark Lewis

Kimberly Hussey

Sara Cibin

Great content, thank you!

Jess Hornby

merrydith russell

Ines Florez

Ben Lewis

Elizabeth Price

Errol Graham Harsley

Laura Beckwith

This course has given me an excellent insight into working with collections, it has built my confidence to put what I have learnt into practice.

Joanne Hamilton

Pang Yen Cheng

Tom Carter

Excellent and informative course, very well structured and presented.

Francesco Imola

Phillippa Plock

Well paced and excellent selection of study materials

Patrick Osterbrink

VERY helpful and informational!

Ishaq Yusuf

Interesting course

Sabrina Ruffino

Hayley Du-Buisson

Cathy Wells

Lois Emma Harkin

Ross McKirdy

Victoria Haddock

John Cummings

Deborah Hide-Bayne

Really thought provoking. A nice mixture of videos, articles and reports to read and think about. Thank you.

Jens Hünefeld

Great introduction or refresher course on the basics of collections and curatorial work.

Jonathan Kimel

Very in-depth, great refresher course on museum engagment and collections!

Rahma Mohamed

Alana Stephenson

very useful insight, even for someone not employed within the museums sector yet

Tania Vanessa Alvarez Portugal

Eleanor Claxton-Mayer

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25 Lessons included in this course


25 Lessons included in this course


25 Lessons included in this course