Making the most of membership

Fiona Thornton, SMF Membership officer, reflects on  the key benefits of being an Scottish Museums Federation member.

Back in April last year I joined the Scottish Museums Federation Committee as Membership Officer. After almost a year in the role, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on some of the benefits of membership, and encourage any non-members to join!

So what is the Scottish Museums Federation?

Founded in the 1930s, the Fed was set up to provide opportunities for professional development, networking and informative discussion for anyone working, volunteering or interested in the Scottish museums and galleries sector. More than 80 years later, our aim is still the same.

We have members throughout Scotland from local authority, independent, university and national museums, galleries, libraries and archives. Membership is open to all, with our members made up a variety of roles, including curators, collections managers, registrars, learning offices, front of house staff, volunteers and students. Being a member is a great way to build your professional network!

So what do we do?


Every year we run ‘pop up’ events for members around the country. Recent topics have included accessibility, exhibition development and collections storage. Fed events are a great way to meet new people from other organisations and hear about the most recent projects, developments and initiatives taking place in the sector across Scotland. Our next event will be at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery on 20 February and focuses on Perth’s current exhibition Conservation in Action: Saving the Perth Mummy’. You can sign up to the event here.

The winning team at the 2018 Christmas Quiz with the coveted prize – a wooden spoon!
The winning team at the 2018 Christmas Quiz with the coveted prize – a wooden spoon!

Annual conference

This year’s conference will be at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries on 29 April. Bookings will open soon, but in the meantime why not submit a paper? This year’s theme is sustainability, which can be interpreted in a number of ways, but for some inspiration check out our conference webpage. Members receive a discounted ticket price, so another great reason to join.


Social media and newsletter and blog

Another perk of membership is our e-newsletter, which highlights the latest vacancies, training opportunities, conferences, funding deadlines and news stories from the sector. Visited an inspiring exhibition? Been on a good training course? Why not write a piece for the Fed blog and tell colleagues all about it? You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, plus join the members-only Facebook group. Plenty of ways to keep up to date with the latest goings-on in museums!

Professional development award

If you’re looking for professional development opportunities, the SMF can help. Our Professional Development Fund can provide grants of up to £500 to support attendance at conferences, events or training courses, research trips, visiting exhibitions or other opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills. Applicants must have been a member of the Fed for at least 6 months.


I have benefited massively from being a member of the Fed over the last 5 years. It has provided a forum to meet new people, build my professional network and even make some amazing new museum friends. Membership is just £12 a year, and free for students, so an absolute bargain!

If you have questions about SMF membership or would like to join please do get in touch

You can also sign up via our swanky new webpage and pay with PayPal!



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