Museum-University Partnership Initiative

The Museum-University Partnership Initiative (MUPI) brought museums and universities together to work towards mutually beneficial aims.

Creating an efficient and effective environment for mutually beneficial museum university partnerships that create societal benefit.

The Museum-University Partnership Initiative (MUPI) was funded by the Arts Council England Museum Resilience Fund and delivered by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) in partnership with the Share Academy project and Paddy McNulty Associates. It ran for two years between October 2016 and 2018, and was built on learning from a successful pilot project from 2016. The MUPI pilot project demonstrated how the higher education sector can be opened up to smaller and medium sized museums whose unique collections and engagement expertise are often an underutilised resource, whilst at the same time adding value to the work of the museums involved and contributing to their long term resilience. 

During the two years that it ran, the MUPI project created connections between museums and university partners. Working alongside Museum Development Professionals, 7 regional and 2 National MUPI Match events were held, and were attended by over 200 people. These facilitated networking events brought together museum staff and academics, and cumulated in the opportunity to pitch for small amounts of ‘thinking funding’ to explore potential project ideas and build relationships. 77 MUPI Match projects were funded, involving 107 museums and 59 universities. A programme of symposia ran alongside these events, and were an opportunity to share best practice and explore learning from the project.

In addition to the MUPI Match Events, this programme worked with funders to evidence the value that these relationships can have, and created tools to support museum-university partnerships and share the learning from the project. These tools are available below.

MUPI Resources

All of the resources below are available to download. You can also purchase printed copies of each set of cards by following the links below, or buy the full set for a 15% discount!

MUPI Match Guide

The MUPI match events have been hugely effective at supporting partnership development between museums and universities. In this comprehensive guide, the tried and tested approach is described in detail, including everything you need to create your own match event.

Download the guide.

Watch the Trialogues animation.

Download the associated templates.

MUPI Purposeful Partnerships

This card game will facilitate discussions between organisations considering the purpose and priorities of their intended partnership.

Download the cards.

Download the instructions.

Download a spare set of blank 'wildcards'.

Buy a printed set of Purposeful Partnership cards.

MUPI Conversation Starters

A sliding scale activity designed to stimulate conversations between partners about the nature of their partnership

Download the cards.

Download the instructions.

Buy a printed set of the Conversation Starters

MUPI Partnership Planning

A set of cards to help people explore partnership development, suggesting actions and resources to help manage each stage of the relationship.

Download the cards.

Download the instructions.

Download the associated extra resources

Buy a printed set of the Partnership Planning cards.

Printed copies of the resources above will be available to purchase soon. You can register your interest in buying printed copies here. 

MUPI Case Studies

Explore some of the exciting partnerships that came out of the MUPI project!

Explore the case studies

Digtal Network Reports

MUPI participants were keen to see more networking opportunities being supported, with a particular focus on digital networking. The MUPI project commissioned two research projects to explore this further:

Cultural Heritage and Higher Education digital brokering/networking resources (Dr Laura Crossley) which identified existing digital networks, and carried out a consultation exploring networking types and the potential for MUP networks. There are already a large number of networks, each with a specific subject focus. While the report identified a number of useful networking tools, none of the networks identified cover the broader themes of MUPs, across all subject areas, and types of partnership. 

Download the report.

Exploring Digital Network Models (Alexandra Reynolds, Sammy Field, Jane Cameron and Lindsay Moreton) which identified the fundamental success factors of online communities, and concluded that digital networking on a museum/university scale is likely to be difficult to sustain, both in terms of having a critical mass of participation, and in being financially viable. A broader combined arts and/or cultural heritage approach is more likely to be successful; though this would need support from larger or National organisations. The report explored the possibilities offered by data aggregation and pointed to examples of platforms using aggregated data successfully support the wider cultural sector.

Download the report.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more information or join our MUPI mailing list, please contact


MUPI Match Guide Templates

Templates and resources to accompany the MUPI Match Guide.

Trialogue cards

Judging forms

Pitch prompts

Pitch pro-forma

Feedback Forms

Example publicity material

Example application form

Guidance for applicants

Joining instructions 

Venue brief 

Example case study postcards

Group discussion prompts

Tick list of necessary resources

Reporting process guidelines

Contracting Guidelines *

MUPI Partnership Planning Card Extra Resources

Extra resources that have been developed to support the MUPI Partnership Planning Cards. 

MUPI Do we need a partner? 

MUPI Ending a Partnership

MUPI Guide to In-Kind Contributions

MUPI Guide to university KPIs

MUPI Jargon Busting Activity

MUPI Museum Jobs Decoder

MUPI Sharing Learning

MUPI University Jobs Decoder 

MUPI Guide to Intellectual Property

MUPI Example Letter of Agreement*

*Please note: The Contracting Guidelines and Example Letter of Agreement are intended for informative purposes (“Intended Purpose”) only and should not be used as a template or a precedent. Any use of these documents other than for the Intended Purpose shall entirely be at the risk of the user and NCCPE shall not be liable for any loss or damage of any kind, howsoever arising, which is suffered by anyone from such use. You are strongly advised to seek independent legal advice prior to developing or entering into any agreement.

NCCPE does not provide any warranty, guarantee or undertaking (either express or implied) as to the fitness for any particular purpose of any information or advice that is provided by it [on this web page] and will not have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, howsoever arising, which is suffered by anyone in consequence of the provision by it, of such information or advice.