A group attend a Museum Futures session

Skills for the Future training programme

Museum Futures

Museum Futures was a training programme, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Over three cohort years (2019 to 2021) the British Museum partnered with 20 museums and cultural organisations across the UK to host 25 extraordinary trainees. These paid placements invested in a new generation of diverse museum professionals through on-the-job training in digital skills related to museum collections.

Museum Futures trainees: 

  • Worked towards a Level 3 Cultural Heritage qualification.
  • Earned a tax-free bursary of £14,650 (£16,650 for London-based trainees).
  • Attended monthly training sessions at partner museums across the UK.
  • Contributed to innovative digital projects, built in-demand skills, and made an impact at their museum.

About Museum Futures

Over 20 museum partners across the UK hosted trainees. We recruited entry-level trainees who were keen to learn about digital skills and cultural heritage. We encouraged people with no museum experience, without an undergraduate degree, and who were under-represented in the sector to apply.

The traineeship was a full-time placement for roughly one year. Trainees earned a bursary and worked towards a Level 3 Diploma in Cultural Heritage. Each trainee role and host museum project was unique, but all trainees worked on digital skills relating to museum collections. Please view the list of partners who hosted trainees each year. Trainees were recruited locally by each host organisation in late September, with all placements beginning in January. Trainees and their supervisors got to travel to other museums in the network as well as the British Museum. All travel expenses were covered.

Museum Futures had the following aims, and we continuously evaluated the project against these desired outcomes:

  • Increase the diversity and representation of the heritage workforce.
  • Increase the range and quality of work-based training to develop skills in the heritage sector.
  • Meet identified skills shortages in the heritage sector.
  • Increase the capacity of the sector to deliver training and share good practice.

Museum Futures Summit

On 8 March 2022, the British Museum hosted a one-day online summit to celebrate and learn from ten years of Heritage Fund Skills for the Future programming, which includes Museum Futures as well as dozens of traineeships across the UK. 

The Museum Futures Summit explored the impact and key learning outcomes of paid entry-level training programmes - including traineeships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and Kickstart placements - designed to increase representation and accessibility within the cultural heritage sector workforce. 

The event featured 38 speakers from over 20 organisations, including current and former trainees, as well as staff working to develop and deliver training programmes. 

All six sessions are available to watch below or on our YouTube events channel.


Session 1

Building on traineeships: sustainable, embedded change

Presentations from Culture&, Creative & Cultural Skills and Historic England, followed by Q&A

Session 2

Beyond traineeships: kickstart and apprenticeships

Presentations from Creative Access, Museums Galleries Scotland and Scottish Crannog Centre, followed by Q&A.

Session 3

Beyond traineeships: alternative routes in

Presentations from Curious Minds, Beatfreeks / Don't Settle and London Transport Museum, followed by Q&A.

Session 4

Rethinking recruitment

Presentations from Curating for Change, National Football Museum and Norfolk Museums Service, followed by Q&A.

Session 5

Critical reflection: the importance of evaluation

Presentations from Somerset House, The National Archives and the British Museum, followed by Q&A.

Session 6

What's next? Supporting careers after traineeships

Panel discussion featuring GLAM professionals working to open the sector to new people and possibilities.

Museum Futures blog

Read more about the Museum Futures programme on our archived blog. Themes include training and reflecting on the Museum sector and cover digital skills, interviewing and creating a culture of generosity. 


A trainee's guide: how to conference
An honest guide to surviving a conference in the museum world.

Visiting the Museum of East Anglian Life (MEAL)
A senior photographer and a training manager walk into a museum...

Positive action recruitment roadmap
Read about our work with the Audience Agency to draw together our experience of recruiting for diversity.

Museum interview questions: what to expect
Find out some of the questions you can expect to get when interviewing for a museum role.

Advice from one Museum Futures Trainee to another
Including asking questions and expanding your network. 

Training on digital skills related in museums
Discover four key digital concepts explored during the Museum Futures programme.

What is the Level 3 Diploma in Cultural Heritage?
Find out more about this Museum qualification.

Reflecting on the Museum sector

Recalibrating: what’s next for heritage's digital space?
Museum Futures Trainee Dominique Gearing explores how the balance of ‘on-site’ and ‘online’ be redressed.

Mutual aid and museums – creating a culture of generosity
What is the relevance of collaboration and exchange when museums across the country are fighting for their existence?

Museum Futures during COVID-19
Reflections on the programme during the pandemic.

Museum Futures partners

Museum Futures had three cohorts of host partners.


  • The Atkinson
  • National Football Museum
  • Museum of Cardiff / Amgueddfa Caerdydd
  • South West Heritage Trust
  • Museum of East Anglian Life
  • University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden
  • Culture Perth and Kinross
  • The British Museum


  • Birmingham Museums Trust
  • Bristol Culture/ South West Museum Development
  • Derby Museums
  • Hastings Museum & Art Gallery
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens
  • Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum
  • Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery
  • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
  • The British Museum


  • Museum of East Anglian Life
  • National Museums Liverpool
  • Norfolk Museums Service
  • Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove
  • South West Heritage Trust
  • York Museums Trust
  • Garden Museum
  • The British Museum

Skills for the Future training programmes (2011–2021)

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