Museum Essentials: Working with Community Partners

Working with Community Partners

Free - Enroll now

About this course

Working with Community Partners is one of a number of courses that sits within the Museums Association's Museum Essentials Programme.

This course will help you think about your practice and partnership development considerations. It is written for anyone in the museum sector who wants to know more about how effective partnerships can be. It builds on our pilot project, Partnerships with Purpose, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, during the course you may hear reference to this project.

The course is divided into 5 sections with 5 lessons in each section. 

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 partnerships and encourage others to work with community partners.

Working with Community Partners supports the Understanding the Sector competency heading in the Museums Association's Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA). For more information about the AMA please click here.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Working in partnerships with communities can deliver a range benefits for both the community and the museum, working as equal partners.

Socially Engaged Practice

Encourages museums to deliver a positive social impact with the communities in which they function, this, as part of the Museums Change Lives, should be one of the starting point for working with Community Partners.

Practically Focussed

This course is more practical than our others to set you on a path of making local and relevant connections, whether you are looking to refine your thinking about community partnerships or want a checklist to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to go through this course?

10-15 hours.

I am at the very early stages of thinking about community partnerships - will this course help?

Working with Community Partners takes you through the foundations of community based practice, to identifying, engaging and supporting community partners, within your context. During the course you will have an opportunity to reflect on the wants and needs of your museum, see how other museums have developed community partnerships and what you need to take into consideration. Whether you are just thinking about it or actively taking the next steps this course has something for you.

Do I have to complete all of the sections in the order presented?

Not at all, we know that different learners will come to this content with different levels of experience and interest and go to the section that meets your needs - Community Based Practice, Community Partners, Museum Context or Putting it into Practice - that looks practically at the future. Start where you need to start.

How do I navigate the content?

The course is divided into five sections and within each section there are 5 lessons. Whilst the content has been designed with a beginning, a middle and an end you can progress flexibly through the content. Use the Next button to take you through the course until you reach a section or a lesson you want to engage with.

What do I do if I have any questions about the course or Museum Essentials?

There is functionality within the platform that enables you to send questions as a learner to the Museums Association. In addition, feel free to email the course leader directly their contact details will be available on the Museums Associations website, or

Can I save content from this course?

Yes. Throughout the course there are links and more detailed downloadable content. We would encourage you, if you wish, to download the content or save the links if that supports your learning. We also know that some of you may be working in remote locations, stores or on the move where connectivity may be an issue - so downloading them may help. But remember as long as you remain a member of the Museums Association you will be able to access the Museum Essentials courses and content.

Do you release new content every week or every month?

No, we don't. Unlike other online learning courses where they adopt a 'drip drip' approach to content we have made all the content available from the point of enrolment. The reason we have done this is we didn't want to add to any 'pressure' to complete at a pace decided by us. We know that life is unpredictable, people have different commitments and learn in different ways - so we wanted to build in as much flexibility as possible which means you can choose to complete everything in a week or over 6 months - it is up to you.

Do I have to be a member to participate in the Museum Association's Museum Essentials online learning programme?

Yes. Museum Essentials is a membership benefit for all our individual members. To become a member, visit our website: Access to the course and content is available as long as you remain a member.

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 community partnerships, then email

Is there a discussion section for this course?

We don't have a discussion area within each course but look to share your reflections with your own network or peers. Why not create a WhatsApp group, or arrange a meet up - in real life or digitally?

Meet the expert

Tamsin Russell

Tamsin Russell has worked in the sector for 18 years. Her focus is workforce and organisational development to realise the potential of individuals and the sector, through coaching, mentoring and delivery; and in recent years has developed online learning resources to support development.


neerja sutaria and 623 others have booked this class

Aimee Fletcher

I really enjoyed the course and the content. Some of the exercises are challenging to do if working from home or a volunteer/student however the quality of the content and exercise types are all very good. I would recommend!

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