Study Trip

The South and East Museums Federation is unique among UK Museum Federations in organising an annual study trip that gives members a rare opportunity to visit behind the scenes and meet members of staff from museums across Europe and beyond.

Study trips are organised voluntarily by SEMFed members. It is a great opportunity to learn from fellow professionals across the world and socialise with fellow SEMFed members over dinner & drinks. 

In previous years we have visited Paris, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Cologne, Amsterdam, and Rome.

Study Trip 2024: Valencia, 24th-27th January 2024

Join us as we explore the port city of Valencia – the cradle of paella, supposed home of the Holy Grail and one of the historic capitals of Spain. As a result, it’s overflowing with interesting places to explore on our city break.  A 1.5km long swathe of the old Turia riverbed has been transformed into an architectural marvel – the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’ with its futuristic structures including a planetarium, oceanarium and an interactive museum.

Our January visit will be too early for the annual Fallas festival – an event that combines tradition, satire and art. Instead we can visit the Fallas Museum for a taste of it.  The festival’s origin is in the burning of wooden lighting props no longer needed with the arrival of spring.  People also added old belongings and rags to the fires, which gave the resulting wooden structure a human-looking aspect. Now many hundreds of figurative sculptures are created each year, only to be burned, with the exception of a select few which are saved for the Fallas Museum. 

And that’s not the strangest thing to be found in a Valencian museum – there’s one dedicated to toy soldiers, with over 95,000 on display (out of a collection of over a million!). 

In January, the average temperature is a mild 16c, but if needed we can warm up even more exploring the greenhouses of the botanic gardens or take a stroll through museums dedicated to local ceramics, rich silks, fine arts or science…the only issue will be deciding what to do during our time there!

With direct flights from Stanstead and Gatwick to Valencia, and a metro service into the city centre, we plan to gather for a group dinner on the evening of Wednesday 24 January, with two full days of museum visits currently being planned for the Thursday and Friday, and the chance to stay on and independently explore even more on the Saturday. 

More information and booking details will be available soon. Please see below for information on a travel bursary available for members joining us on a Study Trip for the first time. In the meantime, save the date!

To register your interest in the trip, please contact us on

Martin Howe Bursary

Each year, the Federation offers a travel bursary in honour of Martin Howe, an ex-President of the Fed who was involved with the organisation for many years.

Martin Howe was Curator at Peterborough Museum from the 1980s to the early 1990s, when he became ill and died at a young age. His background was in archaeology and he had excavated all over the place including in Scandinavia, but by instinct he was a polymath, interested in and knowledgeable about a wide range of human history. Together with Martin’s widow, the Federation decided a travel bursary would be a small but fitting way to commemorate his life.

The £200 bursary helps to cover travel and accommodation costs of the study trip and is open to all SEMFed members who have not been on the Study Trip before.

Download information about how to apply for the bursary for our 2024 trip to Valencia.