York Museums Trust

Community Participation

Connecting and inspiring people with the stories, histories, cultures and art of York and North Yorkshire     

We believe our museums, galleries, collections and spaces have not been available to all our communities and often, do not represent them. Community participation and engagement activities allow us to open up, share our collection and create space for diverse voices and histories. We want to change and develop all our activity and programming in to socially engaged practice to combat and reduce inequalities and deprivation in our city and region to contribute to our civic duty, vision, mission and values. Activities are not just what we display or share with audiences, they will also be inward looking to ensure our strategies, policies and procedures do not contribute to inequality, deprivation or discrimination.   

We are currently working on a strategy and framework for community participation and engagement to understand what we can offer and how we can support organisations in their work. We are consulting our partner communities with this and if you want to be involved, do get in touch.  

This page highlights our current projects, schemes and initiatives for increasing participation with our communities. To get more information about any of these projects, please contact our Community Participation Manager, Philip Newton philip.newton@ymt.org.uk  

Community Participation Scheme 

As an independent not-for-profit charity, we reinvest our income back into the city’s cultural offer to care for Yorks’s collections and interpret them for our residents and visitors. We receive funding from the Arts Council and City of York Council, but our most significant income comes from entry fees and paid for activities. Although all sites have a pay barrier, YMT is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible have access to our sites and collections. 

The Community Participation Scheme allows us to build relationship with communities where free entry can be used as an incentive or part of a project. The card is designed to mirror our Patron and Supporter schemes and gives total access as a visitor to our sites without the need for payment, prebooking, or handing over any personal information for the individual. Cards are given to community organisations and facilitators loan them to individuals and families they support. We have piloted this programme since 2021 with our core community partners and are looking at ways to expand the project.  

Co-curated Exhibitions  

We understand that our collections of objects, artworks, places and spaces can provide opportunities for people to connect with themselves, wider communities and people across time and from places far away. By using these assets as conduits for experience, and importantly empowering communities and individuals to make decisions on their care, display, use and future, we will contribute to participatory practice. By using our ethical considerations, we can use collections to support our practices. We believe that there are priorities for participation when our collections respond to the following.   

  • A community is reflected in or connected to an object, piece of art or spaces but do not have a voice in YMTs interpretation, presentation or preservation and care – communities of origin 
  • A community who make up a part of our population or audiences but are absent from our collections or stories – underrepresented, seldom heard or marginalised community 
  • Individuals who can share their lived experiences to better interpret our collections and buildings but may not have a direct connection to an object or space – Socially Engaged Practice 


We have co-curated a series of exhibitions with our communities at York Castle Museum and York Art Gallery.  

Queering the Burton  

Isolation Art

York’s Jewish History: 1170 to present day 

HERStory.York: 100 Changemakers

Celebrating York’s Gypsy and Traveller Heritage


Heritage Hunters

York is famous for Romans, Viking, Medieval architecture, Georgian streets, and Victorian industries but parts of the city have been overlooked in its narrative. Heritage Hunters aims to work with residents in areas of York that have a wealth of history but has not yet had the focus. The project is not about uncovering new histories but to support those who live there to find out more about their surroundings and to share it with their friends and neighbours. We also bring organisations and charities together to support residents and build further connections with the past to share their research. Click below to see our magazines and example project template. 

Project Schedule  

Research Guide

Issue 1 – Hull Road

Issue 2 – The Groves

Issue 3 Acomb and Westfield 

Our Current Partners 

York Travellers Trust  

York City of Sanctuary  

York LGBT Forum and York Pride 

York LGBT History Month  

Welcome to York Programme  

The Good Organisation  

York Human Rights City  

York Local Area Coordinators  

Kyra Womens Project  

Refugee Action York