Freelance Museum Consultancy

Curriculum Vitae

Name Kate Pontin

Date of birth 08.08.63

Current Employment Details

Consultant: Education and Evaluation (March 2000 – present)
Examples of the range of evaluation work undertaken

Old Royal Naval College HLF project for conservation of the West Wall and Ceiling of the Painted Hall (phase 1) with associated outreach activity plan. Evaluation included consultation with staff, volunteers, key partners and new audiences, including family centres, FE college in Woolwich, groups with special needs and ESOL. I also trained and worked with volunteers who helped collect data from visitors. A focus group with project staff/volunteers at the end of the programme (used the Prove it! Toolkit) helped with reflection on the project, how had it managed and how the process could be improved for the next phase. Feedback from conservators and apprentices through interviews, attending meetings and guided tours helped evaluate success of the conservation strand. A range of approaches were used to collect data from the outreach groups including attending sessions, discussion about outputs, and simple surveys as well as demographic data.

Colchester Castle Museum, HLF evaluation of conservation and preservation of the castle along with a total redisplay of the collections and associated town trails. Consultation with users (and non-users) including those with access needs, families, schools, and local interest groups through the use of focus groups, interviews, surveys, and comments forms/visitor books.
Evaluation of archives project Moving Here with minority and other excluded groups for the National Archives and other museums and archives in the Midlands and the North – in partnership, working with a range of minority groups including Yemenese, Chinese, Irish and Asian communities. Consultation with all the groups, as well as the staff and partners, with a range of tools including informal focus groups, emails, interviews, observation of outputs.

Cambridge Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences – formative consultation for new panels for the permanent galleries, a new exhibition on Darwin (and is rock collection) and for new education materials. Here I used focus groups to work with potential and current audiences including local families, schools and those interested in geology.

Summative Evaluation of Birmingham Museum’s ‘Ask the Audience’ project, a three-year community engagement project funded by HLF consulting with communities from traditionally excluded groups to develop new museum audiences and included their input into new galleries. This project developed out of previous audience building projects e.g. with young people and where a “panel” was developed to support future museum development.

Summative Evaluation of a digital archives project My Leicestershire Archive for the University of Leicester Library and associated community groups see: for the summative report. Evaluation methodology included a summative workshop for all key stakeholders, interviews and review of other data collected from web, consultations by staff and user feedback.

HLF Action Plan development support for Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery and including support for hands on activity development for the earth sciences galleries. Data was gathered from a number of different sources included pre- and post-visit feedback from pupils and teachers, observations including statistical data via a checklist of engagement levels, attainment targets, focus groups and viewing outputs (samples of English work)

Evaluation of schools’ programme for touring exhibition (jointly produced with the British Museum) on Games at Gosport Museum (Across the Board) and published in Across the Board, an evaluation in the Journal for Education in Museums 2006.

Other Roles have included:

  • Museums Association Mentor, Freelance Network Convenor for GEM, member of VSG
  • School Governor
  • Associate Tutor for the University of Leicester, Museum Studies Dept for distance learning courses in museum studies, visitor studies and interpretation. I have written elements of the new distance learning course on visitor studies (1999 – present


  • Developing methodologies for evaluation in museums and heritage organisations
  • Other research interests include evaluation and audience studies especially those with young people and minority groups

Research Publications:

  • Evaluation of school work in the Rutland Dinosaur Gallery in Museum, Media and Message (Ed, E Hooper Greenhill), 1995
  • Talking to each other: conversations between carers and children in an exhibition in JEM 18, 1997
  • Museum and Gallery INSET: Teachers’ attitudes and priorities, in JEM 21, 2000, pp 3-8 (with Vicky Woollard)
  • Hawthorne, E. and Pontin, K; Museum Fever and Represent, lessons for working with young people in museums, West Midlands Regional Museums Council
  • What is evaluation for? In the responsive Museum, working with Audiences in the Twenty-First Century, Ed Lang, Reeve and Woollard
  • Across the Board, an evaluation in the Journal for Education in Museums 2006
  • Learning to Live, Museums, young people and education, ippr, Ed K Bellamy and Carey Oppenheim (eds). “Why Young People? Attracting a new audience to our museums”
  • Other articles include items in newsletters of GEM News, Visitor Studies Group (on line), Geological Curators’ Group


  • “Designing Websites” course, Spelthorne College, Ashford, Surrey
  • Using Computer software for qualitative analysis, Visitor Studies Group workshop
  • FMA December 2006, CPD including unit on using IT in museums
  • Child Protection, Safe guarding children
  • Environmental distance learning courses including Sustainable Scotland (Open University) and Climate Change: An introduction (Oxford University)
  • Currently completing my Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice

Previous Posts
Local Heritage Education Officer
London Borough of Hillingdon (full time 1992 – 1996 and part-time 1996-2000)

  • setting up of a new service and subsequent running of a museums and archives education and outreach service, including loans, teacher training, packs, workshops, and events, reminiscence work and display. The post included management of a budget and staff

Museum Education Officer (Natural Sciences)
Leicestershire Museums, Arts and Records Service (1988 –1992)

Graduate Trainee (Natural Sciences)
Leicestershire Museums, Arts and Records Service 1986 -1988
Curatorial Trainee in Natural Sciences Department.

Previous voluntary professional posts
Committee member: Group for Education in Museums, Geological Curator’s Group, Earth Sciences Teachers’ Association, Visitor Studies Group including Chair

A’ Levels (1981) in Maths, Geology and Chemistry

BSc (Hons) in Geological Sciences at the University of Birmingham (1984)
Subsidiary subjects passed in Archaeology, Computer Science and Surveying.

MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester (Certificate course in 1986/7 converted to a master degree in 1993. Thesis on the evaluation of school use of natural sciences gallery at Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery).

Museums Diploma and AMA passed in 1989, FMA Passed 2007
Postgraduate research 1994-2001 on learning in museums and research methodology

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2013)