2023 AIM Conference bursary recipients

“It is several years since I last attended an AIM Conference and had largely given up the thought of doing so again until I read about the themes of the 2023 Conference and its focus on the challenges and perhaps unseen opportunities.

Right from the beginning the focus was on the Power of Possibility – the overarching theme of the Conference – and how we, as independent museums with inbuilt agility to react to ‘life’ as it is thrown to us can be agents of change for those communities who are changing around us.

A key message I took away with me was that the closer we are to our communities the better we understand them, we are a big part of our community’s life and history, and we are not just about history, we are about the future as well – Museums Inspire Dreams.”

Jeremy Mitchell, Finance Trustee and Keeper of the Edward Thomas Study Centre, Petersfield Museum

“I am a new director, now in post for two months and working in an independent museum for the first time in my career. The AIM conference was an invaluable insight into the challenges unique to independent museums, and I was lucky enough to make a lot of useful connections with peers and relevant companies, many of which I have already been in touch with after returning to Colchester.

My role is strategic, and as such the sessions by the NLHF, DCMS and ACE were extremely helpful now that I am planning the future direction and priorities of our organisation.  Meeting the exhibition sponsors AZETS was also timely, as I had questions about VAT and Exhibition Tax Relief.”

Emma Howe, Director, The Minories Gallery

“I had a fantastic, informative two days at this year’s AIM Conference in Edinburgh. It was a wonderful opportunity to not only meet other professionals in the sector, but also hearing their stories, trials, and triumphs. I’ve gained many ideas to try out within my own organisation, and have the confidence that we, too, can make things happen. Us independent museums are extremely valuable not only the sector, but to the general public as well. We thank AIM for all the support thus far and look forward to future events.”

Lidia Letkiewicz, Pilsudski Institute

“As always, the organisation and presentation was slick, professional and approachable, and it was evident that AIM continues to uphold the values of the independent sector.”

Tim Amsden, Chairman, Tring Local History Museum 

“Attending the AIM Conference allowed me to meet and network with people working in and around the wonderful world of independent museums and reassured me that we are all in this adventure together!

The breakouts, workshops, plenaries and keynote presentations were hugely inspiring, especially concerning the areas of community engagement and encouraging new audiences to take interest and ownership of their local museums. Court Barn has a small staff team of three but a large team of committed volunteers, so it was fascinating to think about how the museum could use these ideas from the Conference in its own work to both recruit volunteers and to further engage its rural community in its stories and collections.

I am very grateful to AIM for providing the bursary and for organising such a stimulating and enjoyable Conference.”

Olivia Tracey, Court Barn

“The financial support enabled me to step outside the everyday, and create space to reflect, think, engage and network. To be in a room with so many who share similar challenges and opportunities was a relief and utterly inspiring.

The programme was a mix of presentations, and workshops. I expanded by knowledge and network. The presentations were a mix of case studies and expert knowledge sharing, the panels shone a light on subjects from differing perspectives. To hear how others had and were addressing issues such as volunteer engagement, governance, fundraising -all familiar subjects was invaluable.

The event was intense, timely and relevant. I made several new contacts and connections – peers in the sector and also contractors who I have since worked with. The event was open, and friendly and I now feel part of a vibrant and exciting community of independent museum leaders.”

Annabelle Campbell, Director, David Parr House