Front of House Learning Cohort 2023-24

Training and Development Programme: MDY Learning Cohorts 2023-24

We are now welcoming Expressions of Interest for the 2023-24 learning cohorts.

MDY learning cohorts bring together groups of museums with a shared development interest to learn through training, mentoring and networking, sometimes supported with a small grant for implementing new practices.

Front of House Cohort

This practical and interactive programme features networking, peer support, mentoring and high-quality training.  The programme is a mixture of in-person and online sessions and will work with museums in the North West, North East and Yorkshire.

Everyone will receive training and networking opportunities, whilst non-National Portfolio Organisations, who are new to the cohort, can also access additional mentoring.

Essential Commitment by ALL Participant Museums

We ask that a lead individual from each institution commits to attending every session – if a museum misses a session, they may end up forfeiting their place on the cohort.  This is to ensure consistency, to lead on the action planning and to be the contact for the mentoring – if applicable. We believe that this opportunity would benefit from the lead representative being accompanied by a relevant staff member.  In previous years this has often been someone who has the authority to make change, working with a member from the team.  ALL participating museums are expected to develop an action plan demonstrating how they will implement learning.


  • Mixture of workshops and individual mentoring involving a variety of learning styles
  • Whole-day in person workshops and half-day online sessions, spread across the year
  • Networking opportunities with colleagues across the region.  Share advice and tips – discuss your challenges – we’re all in it together!
  • All non-NPOs, who are new to the programme, are eligible for a mentor.  Some mentors will be available to visit them on site and provide feedback, support and recommendations, whilst others will provide support virtually.

Workshop 1: Valuing your Visitor, Wednesday 24 May, York Castle Museum 

Front of House essentials: thinking about barriers to interaction, the visitor journey and a focus on creating/updating your Induction programme/manual.

Workshop 2: Understanding your Visitor, Tuesday 20 June, York Castle Museum  

A focus on dealing with difficult situations and the importance of gathering, listening to and acting on feedback – either on site or via social media.

Workshop 3: Welcoming Families, Thursday 13th July (online 10am – 12.30pm) 

Facilitated by Kids in Museums, this interactive session will consider why family visitors are so important to museums. The group activity focuses on developing your welcome, farewells and playful interactions with museum visitors.

Workshop 4: Developing Tours, September (venue and date tbc) 

Based at one of the cohort member museums, this practical day will focus on developing formal and informal tours and improving general interaction with visitors in the galleries. The workshop will cover:  Why run a tour? Who are your visitors?  Storytelling (includes a breakout session), route planning and structuring your material.

Workshop 5: Staff Support & Development Monday 23rd October (online 10.00 – 12.30) 

In this online session we’ll be joined by Tamsin Russell, Workforce Development Officer at the Museums Association to talk about Front-of-House Charter for Change – Museums Association.


Museums that are accredited (or officially recognised as Working Towards Accreditation), but not NPOS or nationals, are eligible to have a mentor.  This may include a site visit.  The mentor will offer email, online or phone follow-up support, to discuss their reflections and agree actions. This year we have extended our pool of expertise to represent:

  • Customer service standards
  • Tour/talks development and visitor interaction
  • Family audiences
  • Visitors with Additional Needs (you can choose a generalist or a mentor with lived experience of autism or SEND)

Expected outcomes from the work include:  

  • Participants have increased confidence in regard to customer facing work with specific goals, developed by each museum
  • Museums will have tools to better communicate with visitors and proactively seek and use customer feedback
  • Museums can identify how excellent customer service is demonstrated in the heritage sector and how it impacts on the bottom line
  • Participants have increased skills in providing a high-quality experience in a range of situations – including developing short tours and interacting with visitors in galleries and open spaces
  • Museums have an increased understanding of the needs of families, those with additional needs and disabled visitors.

Feedback from Participants  

“It has really improved my confidence on the floor.  I have been able to explain to colleagues why we need to improve”  Visitor Assistant  

“I’m new to the role and this has been really useful.  I particularly liked the section on dealing with difficult customers”  Front of House Supervisor  

“Really enjoyed the Cohort, and quite sad it’s come to a finish!” Front of House and Volunteer Manager  

Find out more about how we have been supporting museums over the last 6 years:

Front of House Cohort – Case Studies 

Any questions? Please email Liz Denton,

The deadline for submitting your expression of interest in the FOH Learning Cohort is 24 April 2023.

Expressions of Interest for Learning Cohorts 2023-24

Please note final confirmation of all cohorts will depend on demand from museums.