Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring

The Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring (MAGNET) is a network of 12 museums and galleries that are joining resources to share their collections with diverse national audiences.

The network was established in 2020 to deliver a pilot project that culminated in the inaugural exhibition Hair: Untold Stories. Hair opened at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in December 2021 and subsequently toured to Tullie House in Carlisle and Weston Park Museum, Sheffield.

In May 2023 MAGNET received funding from Arts Council England and Art Fund to continue the work established by the Hair: Untold Stories exhibition and subsequent tour. Building on the pilot the aim is for partners is to co-curate collections-based exhibitions with high-quality content, designed to tour nationally.

Read the Hair: Untold Stories exhibition final report

MAGNET aims to share collections more widely, with exhibitions being seen by many more people. It will also address the unsustainability of ‘single use’ exhibitions.

New MAGNET partner the Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG) will support the network to develop skills and knowledge and provide workshops and resources on all aspects of touring exhibitions.

MAGNET Partners

The majority of the partners are based outside London as a way of rebalancing investment across the UK.

The exhibitions

There are three new collections-based exhibitions, to be developed in partnership by MAGNET venues.

  • A for Anthropocene (working title) at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and Derby’s Museum and Art Gallery, followed later by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Manchester Museum and the Horniman
  • What Does Colour Mean To You? (working title) at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Tullie, Carlisle, and Gosport Museum and Art Gallery, followed by Sheffield Museums and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
  • Gender Stories (working title) at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, followed by World Museum Liverpool.

Each exhibition will be tailored to its touring locations using venue-specific content and programmes led by local artists and communities. All three exhibitions will open at their first venues in summer 2025.

‘We are delighted to be supporting MAGNET with this Touring Project grant, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, alongside Art Fund. It’s an exciting and important opportunity for a network of museums to develop a new model for touring exhibitions. Touring in a sustainable way helps us to ensure that as many people as possible across the country – no matter where they come from or what their circumstances – have access to the best of art and culture locally in their villages, towns and cities.’

Hannah Lake, Director of Touring at Arts Council England

‘MAGNET’s pilot exhibition demonstrated how museums and galleries can collaborate on ambitious exhibitions, involving communities more deeply in the process, and foregrounding environmental sustainability. This new funding commitment will enable more of our wonderful collections to be seen and enjoyed by even more people across the country in a series of exciting new exhibitions. I’m thrilled that Art Fund has helped this innovative project to come to fruition, as one of an exciting array of new initiatives supporting touring exhibitions alongside our new UK-wide programme Going Places.’

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund