I’ve been thinking about membership again this week. National Trust membership, EU membership (don’t get me started!), INTO membership. On Wednesday, I had the very great pleasure of attending the Falkland Islands Government Annual Reception in Lincoln’s Inn, London, with one of our wonderful Amicus supporters, Trevor Johnson. Trevor has visited these remote islands in the South Atlantic Ocean on two occasions and made it his mission to connect the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust to INTO and the ‘mother Trust’, where he is a keen volunteer and supporter in Shropshire.
The Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust duly became members of INTO in 2009 and the Museum Manager, Leona Roberts, attended the Victoria (Canada) ICNT in 2011. Since then we have kept in touch by email and watched their move into new premises in the Historic Dockyard with interest and curiosity – the Reclus Antarctic refuge hut had to be dismantled for the fourth time in its life and reassembled on the new site (even down to the pin-ups on the wall!) and over 4,000 smaller exhibits listed and packed into 700 boxes.
The new museum has proved a turning point in the organisation’s history and is not only a beacon of best museum practice (it was short-listed for a Museum and Heritage Award for Excellence in 2015) it is also hugely popular both visitors (in the last tourist season, 11,000 cruise ship passengers visited the museum – double the previous year). But perhaps more important has been the response from local residents. “The development is an asset to the whole of the Falklands. It showcases our history and we’ve worked hard to get the personal stories behind the objects that were on show or in storage at Britannia House (the old museum site)”, said Leona on the occasion of the official launch of the site. And indeed in the first six months of opening, some 300 people and families joined the museum, at least half of them becoming life members.
As Trevor pointed out, 300 out of a population of 3,000 is a pretty impressive membership penetration percentage!!!
The evening in the Great Hall at Lincoln’s Inn brought together a wide range of people with an involvement in the Falkland Islands, from business folk to soldiers, former Governors to medics alongside many Islanders (including young people doing their A-Levels at the same college I went to in Hampshire!) and many people who just love the Falklands. The evening concluded with the Band of the Grenadier Guards ‘Beating the Retreat’, which gave some people the chance to do a bit of campaigning on the Brexit vote – “if Angela Merkel gets her way, she’ll do away with the British Army …”.
Lastly, we’ve been thinking about what it means to be a member of INTO and I tested some of our thinking with a group of ladies who attended my talk about INTO in my home town last night. They were all fascinated – and surprised – to learn that there were National Trusts in other countries. Some of them were interested that they might be able to use their National Trust membership cards to get in for free, but mostly there were just really pleased to hear that these organisations existed and were doing good work, often in countries where heritage was not at the top of the list of priorities. They also liked the idea of being part of a global heritage network with like-minded people who love places, wherever they are in the world. Hurrah!
Download our free Guide to Membership Development here.
Find out more about becoming a Member of INTO here.
Find out about the INTO Amicus Programme here.
Thanks for reading.