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Creating Meaningful and Inclusive Museum Practices

Learn how to engage and collaborate with diverse communities to turn museums into spaces of social inclusion and belonging.

7,714 enrolled on this course

A selection of abstract drawings of faces in colourful bubbles.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours
  • Digital upgrade


Encourage wider cultural participation, community inclusion, and co-curation

This course will broaden your perspective on the role of contemporary museums in community engagement and equip you with the skills to develop meaningful and inclusive museum projects.

Understand key challenges for marginalized people and promote inclusive museum learning

The inclusion of historically marginalized communities has become a key challenge for contemporary museums.

On this course, you’ll explore a series of methodologies and strategies that you can adapt to your own context to encourage participation in all communities.

Discover participatory methodologies for social inclusion and diverse community building

Using case studies and discussions with practitioners, academics, and community members, you’ll explore the meaning of community and what it means to belong or not to belong.

You’ll learn how inclusive museum design can foster a feeling of belonging, and how to adapt institutional structures to integrate projects that are produced in collaboration with diverse communities.

Study inclusive museum practice with the International Council of Museums (ICOM)

This course is led by ICOM, an international organisation created by and for museum professionals committed to protecting the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

You’ll learn with two ICOM-appointed museum specialists with extensive experience in the study and development of participatory programmes.

Hailing from South Africa and Salvador/Canada respectively, you’ll gain a global understanding of the value of enhancing community engagement in museums projects and activities.

You’ll finish the course with not only an understanding of the concepts related to meaningful participation but also with the knowledge to transform these concepts into practical methodologies that you can apply at work.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome to the course

      Here we will be introducing your course leaders and giving you the opportunity to introduce yourselves.

    • Exclusion

      Ever felt excluded? Thought about why? Here we explore exclusion and its opposite, ‘inclusion’.

    • Belonging

      Moving beyond ‘access’ to ‘belonging’.

    • Participation

      What is 'participation' and what does it mean to you?

    • Review of Week 1

      Reflecting on what we have learned and looking forward to next week.

  • Week 2

    Leadership and Governance

    • Week 2 introduction

      This activity introduces the Week's topics, which include: ethics, ethical principles, ethical principles for project design, inclusive design, governance for meaningful participation and participatory committees.

    • Ethics

      In this section we will explore the following questions; What are ethics? What are ethical principles? Why is ethical leadership so important? And, how does one apply ethics to a project?

    • Governance

      This section will address issues of good governance as both an outcome of ethical leadership and a contributor to ethical practice.

    • Inclusive (museum) design

      During this activity you will learn how inclusive design can and has been applied in the museum sector.

    • Review of Week 2

      This activity will review the topics we have covered in Week 2.

  • Week 3

    Diving in

    • Welcome to Week 3

      This activity introduces the Week's topics, which include: principles for inclusive programming, strategies and inclusive practices.

    • Principles for inclusive programming

      In this activity, we will explore the kinds of pathways to inclusive design and programming.

    • Strategies

      In this activity, we will be introducing you to practical ideas for implementing inclusionary programming.

    • Inclusive practices

      In this activity, we will be focusing on practices which support inclusive programming.

    • Review of Week 3

      During this activity we will go over the concepts you have learned this week and get a glimpse of what is to come in the last week of the course.

  • Week 4

    Taking action

    • Welcome to your final week

      In this, our final week together we will draw together all of the threads over the last three weeks and weave a call to action.

    • Democratizing museum practices

      In Week 2 we addressed ethical leadership. In Week 3 we explored how inclusive practices need to be embedded within institutional culture to thrive. Here we address how democratizing museum practices supports these efforts.

    • Adaptation as key changemaker tool

      In this section of the course, we explore three key issues which changemakers need to engage with at an individual and personal level.

    • Taking action

      During this activity you will learn about different forms of activism that can take place in the art and museum worlds. Through tangible examples, you will gain access to tools and strategies for change.

    • Congratulations and well done!

      Congratulations! You have come to the end of this learning journey. In this final section we will recap some of the key concepts, strategies and thoughts which emerged over the last four weeks.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the importance of historically marginalized groups defining yourself, your positionality and sense of belonging
  • Analyze institutional structures and leaders to collaborative work in an ethical perspective
  • Explain Inclusive Design methodology and its importance in creating institutions that foster a feeling of belonging
  • Apply selected participatory methodologies to their contexts

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for all museum professionals looking to broaden their understanding and skills in inclusive and participatory practices and how to develop inclusive community projects.

The concepts and tools you’ll learn will enable you to champion inclusivity and wider participation in a variety of areas of museum work, including museum education, museum curation, museography, conservation, and more.

Who will you learn with?

Deirdre Prins-Solani is a heritage activist. She investigates the relationships between living heritage and the everyday so as to create through action research, viable and sustainable living practice

Armando Perla is a scholar, consultant, activist and curator. He collaborates with museums, cultural organizations, and communities on issues of human rights and social inclusion in Canada and abroad.

Capacity Building Coordinator at ICOM. Experienced in the design and implementation of impactful education and training programmes and committed to collaborative work and social responsibility.

Who developed the course?

International Council of Museums

ICOM is the international organization of museums and museum professionals committed to building capacity, defending world heritage and communicating the value of museums to society. In order to shape the museum of tomorrow, ICOM offers high-level capacity building programs with the support of its network. These programs aim to improve museum practices in different regions of the world and promote professional cooperation among institutions facing similar challenges.

  • Established

    1946, Paris

What's included?

International Council of Museums are offering everyone who joins this course a free digital upgrade, so that you can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means that you get:

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • A PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Learning on FutureLearn

    Your learning, your rules

    • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
    • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
    • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

    Join a global classroom

    • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
    • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
    • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

    Map your progress

    • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
    • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
    • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

    Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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