AIM Hallmark grant – St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery

New signage at St Barbe cafe welcome desk

AIM grant: £11,450
Reach Further

St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery started in 1999 as ‘a museum in a room’, in an old school building. The ‘Future of St Barbe ‘, a NLHF project, opened in 2017 and transformed St Barbe to an accessible space with an Accredited museum, a GIS standard gallery, Gift shop and Café.

Our project ‘Reach Further’ had three components:

  1. Audience research – to help us engage with local teenagers; disability, dementia and mental health groups; socially excluded people and the rural community. We looked at:
  • Who are our users?
  • Who visits the building but do not pay to go into the Museum?
  • Who visits to Lymington, but do not come into the Museum?
  • How do people in the local rural communities want to use our services?
  1. Messaging – the café and shop are busy, but we do not convert general visitors to paying customers. The project funded a marketing consultant to get the messaging right, provide information to build on our strong branding and convert our regular visitors to paying customers.
  1. Pricing and outreach – we need to charge for entry as this is our main source of income, and the charge encourages visitors to become Friends and Patrons. We also want to build a more community focused audience. The project helped us analyse our pricing to ensure that we were able to cover our running costs as well as develop programmes for those unable to pay and establish messaging to encourage paying visitors to support our charitable ambitions.

As a small team everyone was involved in the project, from trustees to volunteers. We worked closely with disability organisations and the Access Panel. The outreach was undertaken in partnership Bournemouth University; students curated a WWII exhibition with six villages. Due to COVID-19, this exhibition is now on the website.

The main outcomes have been:

  • We know and understand our audience.
  • We are clear about our messaging, in print, on-line and inside the Museum.
  • We have a clear pricing structure with free events to attract our harder to reach audience.

The impact on our organisation is huge. It made us re-examination our Aims, Objectives and Values; we interrogated our outreach and community ambitions and established a new fundraising strategy. The information in the reports has provided us with essential information and practical solutions.

The AIM Hallmarks Grant has helped us really understand how to work towards making the Museum a cultural hub, relevant and useful to the whole community.

Maria Ragan, Director, St Barbe Museum