The National Archives Isobel Hunter


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The National Archives Isobel Hunter

  1. 1. Isobel Hunter 19 March 2014 Stories of the World Mainstreaming equality and diversity
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  3. 3. Stories of the World: what was it • Major programme of the UK’s culture programme for Olympic Games “Cultural Olympiad” • Nearly 70 museums involved, 130 exhibitions, 3 million exhibition audience, 5000 events • Largest ever youth participation programme for museums. Involved 22,000 young people as “co-curators” to design major exhibitions • Worked with world collections, explored UK’s links with the world • Connected collections with communities, and reinterpretation process
  4. 4. Stories of the World: examples Luton’s Pakistani truck 5
  5. 5. Stories of the World: examples Preston: contemporary fashion and 19th century Indian textiles 6
  6. 6. Stories of the World: examples Museum of London: My Londiunium 2012 7
  7. 7. Stories of the World: examples Brighton: new gallery of world stories 8
  8. 8. Stories of the World: examples Colchester: loan exhibition from China 9
  9. 9. Stories of the World: why? • UK bid for Olympics included an ambitious culture programme • Themes of 2012 Olympic Games: o Welcoming the world o Young people o “Like never before” • The right moment! o Museums working well with families and schools o But “missing” generation 14-24 year olds o World collections and Britain’s imperial past. Desire for reinterpretation and richer understanding • We wanted to change museums forever 10
  10. 10. Dressing London, Horniman Museum
  11. 11. Imagine if people of all backgrounds from every part of the UK could work as curators of the collections and objects held in our museums, libraries and archives. Imagine if they had the chance to come up with new ways of representing this material, then put on their own series of exhibitions. imagine... 12
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  13. 13. Stories of the World: what did we do? • Began with youth consultation • Clear programme criteria for participation • Project Board: challenged the museums and set high ambitions • Core methodologies • Training • Conferences and celebrations • Youth steering group • Museums recruited their own young people including homeless, young offenders, MA students, drama groups. Massive range! 14
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  15. 15. Stories of the World: how? Two core methodologies: • Hear By Right, National Youth Agency o Audit of policies and procedures across the museum o Self-improvement tool o Changes how young people participate and are involved in decisions • Revisiting Collections o How to work with communities to explore collections o How to capture their understanding in museum catalogues o Changes how knowledge is created and shared 16
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  18. 18. What did the evaluation say? YOUNG PEOPLE was a success “Stories of the World has led to a significant shift in the ambition and quality of museum’s participatory work with young people” “ … in many cases these changes are being embedded. There is a commitment to continued co-curation with young people and to widening this work out to other audiences, in some cases backed up by restructuring, rewriting of strategies and policies and continued facilitation of advisory panels of young people” The programme had positive impacts on young people, museum practice and enthused and energised staff, institutions and collections 19
  19. 19. The revolution is here! My favourite moments • Spontaneous dancing in a private view at the Geffrye Museum • “My home town is a dump. The only good thing in it is the museum and the Moorcroft pottery collection” • Two girls came into Leeds museum on a Saturday to tell them they wanted to do a sponsored run in aid of the museum 20
  20. 20. Success in 2012, but …. • Curators felt work with collections not totally successful. Too much loaded into one programme? • Could not embed new knowledge in catalogues due to catalogue access • Some change embedded, eg new posts, revised policies, youth panels and youth programming • However, youth programmes now hard to find on websites – not as prominent as in 2012 • Financial squeeze and changes in Renaissance programme funding – fewer staff and smaller resources • Strategic leadership from government and ACE – focus has changed • No shared target • Has the change really been embedded? 22
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  22. 22. LESSONS LEARNED • High profile + high risk = high priority • Keep things simple and have one set of objectives • A mass movement can help individual institutions • Change takes time • Collections have the power to excite in a digital age • All staff need to be involved • Money helps, as this work needs expert people • Leadership is essential to drive change and support ongoing work • Participation brings real benefits to the institution – not just to the participants • You unlock one door, and find … more locked doors 24
  23. 23. Isobel Hunter 25