Resource Planning at the V&A Museum

The V&A is an ambitious and inquisitive organization. It produces blockbuster exhibitions, like last year’s David Bowie Is and the forthcoming Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty  and has an exciting range of contemporary events as part of its monthly Friday Lates. Aside from its Public Programme of exhibitions and displays the V&A is also involved in conservation, research and the dissemination of knowledge and best practice.

All these activities involve specialist staff from many teams across the Museum.

In the current economic climate it is inevitable that there is a demand for more visibility and oversight of what these activities cost as well as a need to understand more about whether these undertakings can generate additional income for the Museum.

I’m based in the Resource Planning Team, which is part of the Conservation & Collections Management Division. I work with two colleagues, Beth Ward and Michelle Jensen, and the three of us will post our perspectives and advice on resource planning issues as part of this Managing Our Collections blog.

We currently work with staff from Conservation, Technical Services, Photography and Documentation & Collections Management to gain a better understanding of the amount of time these teams spend on preparing exhibitions and other major activities in the Museum.

We also support colleagues in the V&A’s Finance and Exhibitions teams to help them understand the ‘full cost’ of putting on an exhibition so that they can assess what revenue could be generated.

Within the Conservation and Technical Services teams we are starting to use a set of resource planning tools that were built in-house using Project 2007 and a FileMaker Pro database. These tools will support a monthly assessment of progress to date and enable plans and estimates of work commitments to be adjusted in light of new information.

I am still relatively new to the Museums Sector, having joined last year after working as an IT Project Manager at the Houses of Parliament. So far, from the conversations I’ve had with people from other museums and cultural organizations, I get the impression that resource planning is a developing area of interest and that others in the sector are pursuing a range of different approaches.

I would like to learn more about how other organizations are tackling resource planning so please comment and share your experiences with us. Also, please let us know what background and updates you’d like about the V&A’s resource planning activities.

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