Written by Chris Whitehead
Professor of Museology, Newcastle University

Thinking about Co-production

A common impulse in engaging with migration is to work with stakeholder communities to ‘co-produce’ displays. This ensures that non-official voices can be heard and can give a number of benefits to the communities involved, such as providing new skills and fostering a sense of participation and official representation. Co-production is also a way of avoiding the liabilities of the museum speaking for others, through a process of speaking with communities.

Co-production is used in the museum for a number of purposes, including to:

  • challenge the conventional balance of power
  • broaden bases of representation or expertise
  • introduce new voices and new knowledge;
  • develop relevance to stakeholders
  • provide new forms of engagement for different communities
  • provide new forms of interpretation and resources for visitors
  • democratise heritage and enable greater inclusivity.

REMEMBER: Co-production can be defined as a ‘process of predicting some form or aspect of cultural heritage (that is) deliberately shared/distributed beyond the usual institutional players’.

View and download the planning exercise worksheet Download.