Association of Independent Museums (AIM)

case study


In 2015, the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) commissioned Hilary Barnard and Ruth Lesirge (HBRL Consulting) to design and deliver a major programme of leadership development for museum leaders and enablers.  The purpose of the programme was to strengthen the resilience and wellbeing of museums and assure their continuing independence.  The AIM programme was funded by the Arts Council.

AIM is a network of over 1200 members that provides mutual help and support, shares good practice and provides a voice for the needs of the independent museum sector.


The programmes were highly interactive and customised to the needs of leaders and enablers working in the museum sector.

We delivered 4 leadership development programmes – two for Leaders and two for Enablers – starting in early 2016 and finishing in early 2018.  Each Leaders programme was composed of 5 residentials and 4 action learning sets.  Each Enablers programme was composed of 4 residentials and 3 action learning sets.  There was a guest external speaker at each residential session to strengthen practical learning and improve knowledge and insight into good practice in the wider charity sector.  Preparatory materials were provided before each residential session.

The Leaders programme helped museum leaders engage with strategy, change management, staff and team leadership, governance and financial leadership.  The Enablers programme worked on developing the facilitation and organisational development skills of museum development officers and specialist museum consultants.

The programme was very highly rated by participants.


Participants spoke enthusiastically as to how the programme had broadened their skill sets to enable them to better tackle the strategic and operational challenges facing decision makers in museums.  The programme encouraged ‘can do’ attitudes amongst participants, enabling museums to move forward, change practice, and be innovative on sound foundations.

Members of each cohort have formed networks and keep in touch to support each other meet challenges and sustain their learning from the programme. 

Participants have felt able to act more strategically, and to influence the work of staff colleagues, Board members and individual museums towards that end.

AIM has published resources from the programme on its website for wider take up and use throughout the museum sector.