HYPE Haslemere Young Person’s Exhibition – Search for Best Practice


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The Hype (Haslemere Young Person’s Exhibition) team are a group of young people aged 11-16. Lately we have gone to other museums to see what they have for young people so we can steal their ideas. We visited Brooklands, the Covent Garden Film Museum, the Hunterian (part of the Royal College of Surgeons) and the London Transport Museum.


They don’t have a youth group at the moment, but are keen to start one so were interested in our ideas. We liked the hangar with the Wright Brothers replica and the other planes that we could go on. The volunteers were also very informative. We also liked being able to go for a ride in an old car on the original banking of the racetrack. Unfortunately we were not old enough to visit the Bus museum, a museum independent of Brooklands, without an adult.  We were disappointed as when we did visit (with an adult) we could see no reason for this restriction. We also felt the site itself wasn’t very attractive.  We thought it would be a really good place for a youth section who could help with restoration projects and at events, as it could be a really hands on experience and they could do large exhibitions.

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Diamond Friends Forever Guest Blog: first follow-up @DFF_DiaMu


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DFF-logoby Brent Blockx and Nathalie Brejaart

In our first blog we introduced the DFF-project. A lot of elements were unclear then and are still now. But! Last weekend we had our first meeting with the coregroup of DFF. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. How on earth did we gather these youngsters?

We’re currently in our fifth week of our internship. Our primairy goal when we started was launching the call for youngsters to participate in the DFF-project. AmuseeVous already launched the call the week before, using there normal channels (facebook, mailing,…). Nathalie and me set out to reach a wider audience. Therefore we contacted a lot of organizations and schools. The organizations varied from art- or culture organizations to organizations working with youngsters in troubled situations. The schools were mainly the colleges from Antwerp and the university. We also contacted a few high schools trying to reach youngsters studying something that has nothing to do with culture or art. Continue reading →

Guest Blog: Diamond Friends Forever (Antwerp, Belgium) @DFF_DiaMu


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Brent Blockx (24) and Nathalie Brejaart (23) are currently in their final bachelor year Social Work, specilazation Art- and Culture Mediator. The DFF-project is the main goal for their internship and also the subject of their bachelor paper. Both already completed a bachelor as teacher and are active in different cultural organisations.

The Diamond Museum of Antwerp is temporarely without a home. They had to leave their former building to make room for the expansion of an event hall. This, evidently, posed a huge problem…

Where could the collection be displayed now?

DFF-logoThat’s were we, Brent & Nathalie, come in to the equation. We are doing an internship for AmuseeVous, an organization that tries to bring youngsters and museums/culture closer together. For our internship we were already thinking of designing some sort of pop-up museum with real museum objects. The fact that the Diamond Museum went without a building created an excellent opportunity to join forces.

So now we’re given the chance to build a museum from scratch, using objects from the collection of the Diamond Museum. We can tell you this: that’s more than we dared to dream of! Every aspect is left in our (hopefully) capable hands. But we’re not going to do everything ourselves.

In order to create the best experience for youngsters (age 18-26) we are currently attracting other young people to join in. We launched a call that we’re looking for DFF: Diamond Friends Forever. Those Diamonds Friends will form a coreteam (approxamately 10 persons) that will be the principal thinking tank. Nathalie and myself will coach these youngsters.

This bunch of different characters are given the opportunity to spill every crazy idea and thought on how a museum must look and what it must do to be interesting for youngsters. Thus truely creating a museum by and for young people.

Everything is up for discussion: from labels to lighting, from entrancefees to guided tours. The feedback we can gather from this temporarily museum will be used for a publication and will be implemented in the Diamond Museum once it has found a new home. The efforts from the Diamond Friends will be put to good use and not only result in a ‘one-time-thing’.

2013-02-13 11.54.58We’re currently prospecting possible locations for the project in the heart of Antwerp. A few totally different options already passed the revue: an old vault from a former bank, an empty static manor, a youth hostel, a few abandoned stores… We’re trying to look beyond the ‘typical’ locations. But for now our search continues. The location is one of the only elements that the Diamond Friends can’t decide on. And that’s purely because of a limited timeframe and from the point of security issues.The timeframe in a rough draft is as followed: at the beginning of March we’ll set up our think tank of Diamond Friends (which we’re currently selecting). The Diamond Friends will work on the preparations for the pop-up museum till the end of may. Leaving june to set everything up at the location and to prepare the opening which will take place on the 29th of june. The pop-upmuseum will be open from then till August 31st.

You can follow us on Facebook (DFFDiamondFriendsForever) and Twitter (DFF_DiaMu) to be kept up to date of the project. For more on the Diamondmuseum of Antwerp click here. More information on AmuseeVous can be found here.


Guest Blog: OutStories Bristol, LGBT local history in Bristol, England


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Working with schools to provide new interpretation for OutStories Bristol’s Revealing Stories ExhibitionMshed, Feb 2nd – March 3rd 2013.

Hello, I’m Mark. I’m a volunteer for OutStories Bristol, which is a group that focuses on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) local history in Bristol.  We’re about to set up our exhibition, Revealing Stories, especially for LGBT History Month 2013, about LGBT history in Bristol over the last 70 years.  Our exhibition is being hosted by MShed museum, part of Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives,

revealing-stories-web-flyer-A6-200We started a year ago, collecting material culture, newspaper clippings, oral histories and research that relates to the city’s recent LGBT history.  We asked local people, museums and the Bristol Record Office for anything they could provide so that we bring it together as a single collection at Bristol’s newest museum.  It was amazing the amount of material culture, scans of documents, and newly created artwork we received and how much research we were able to do.

We wanted to ensure that our exhibition was accessible to everyone, not just LGBT people, or their family and friends, but everyone.  To help promote this, we worked with the Learning Team at MShed and invited local schools for a sneak preview of some of the exhibition, the students provided us their own interpretation to show their understanding, and to provide another layer of understanding for other students of a similar age, whether LGBT or not. As well as increasing the value of our exhibition greatly by broadcasting new, young interpretation, the work with schools also contributes to the ongoing work that the Bristol Museums’ Learning Team undertakes with local schools.

revealing-stories-web-flyer-A6-300-backThe schools worked with us in two strands – firstly, small groups of students from two schools contributed to the Revealing Stories exhibition with their own interpretation of the objects, and their thoughts and feelings based on their experiences of LGBT issues at school.  Secondly, young historians at GCSE and A-Level were invited to reinterpret parts of the permanent MShed displays to reveal ‘hidden’ LGBT stories behind them, tying our exhibition into the rest of the museum, and LGBT history in with the rest of Bristol’s history.  Examples of the discussions contributed by the schools for the Revealing Stories exhibition include ‘the history of the word gay’; ‘the colour pink and gender-stereotyping’; personal stories about ‘self acceptance and identity’; how Ian McKellen and Lady Gaga have changed the contemporary school-scape in terms of sexual orientation and acceptance; homophobia in British Football; and commentaries to go alongside Bristol Pride objects included in our exhibition.

We’re so pleased and proud that we’ve been able to connect with students on this project.  Considering the sometimes brutal history of LGBT people in Bristol, it’s really wonderful to celebrate, and openly discuss contemporary LGBT issues with young people, to receive such positive stories and well-thought out interpretation.

[The ‘Revealing Stories’ exhibition is running at MShed from 2nd February-3rd March 2013 to coincide with LGBT History Month.  The MShed is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm.

Mark is a volunteer for OutStories Bristol, in his other life he works leading a heritage project focussed on youth empowerment and encouraging young people to take responsibility for heritage assets.] 

Working with Teens / Youth Panels


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logo_mpMuseum Association is running a Young People campaign as part of their Museum Practice (see here).

One of the things that strikes me is there are so many wonderful panels, groups, etc that have been created over the last few years and I can’t help but think:  What took so long?  Simon Stephens talks about this in the article The Young Ones.

Are you a member or do you run a Teen / Youth Panel?  Feel free to join us on Facebook and Twitter.  We want to share – ideas, thoughts, things that worked, things that didn’t work, and anything else you want to talk about.



UK: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Style Africa @BM_AG


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Style Africa

The popularity of textiles with museum visitors across a range of ages led to the Style Africa exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery…

Supported by the HLF’s Young Roots programme and open until 2 September, Style Africa has been led by a team of 29 young people in partnership with staff at BirminghamMuseumandArtGallery. Through a series of hands-on sessions, site visits and meetings with local West African clothing retailers and designers, the group explored the changing traditions of woven, embroidered, printed and dyed clothing and textiles from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The final exhibition also features a film made by young people from the Drum Arts Centre, who sharing their impressions of West African cloth.

The young people became involved for many different reasons, some for their interest in African textiles:

“I wanted to learn about West African culture in a hands-on way” says Liberty,

“I love the colours, the patterns and the meanings. Each textile tells a different story, which is something you don’t get with clothes from the high street” says Abbey.

Others took part to develop new skills:

“It was great to have an insight into what curating an exhibition involves” comments Sophie

Style Africa was also an opportunity for some of the participants to learn about their heritage:

“I took part because I’m from Sierra Leone and textiles are important in my culture” explains Bascilia.

Hayley Dutfield, discusses her involvement further:

“It was a great opportunity to voice what younger people would like to see in an exhibition. I’m particularly interested in the techniques so Style Africa was a way to showcase some of the historical cloth alongside more contemporary creations. During the workshops, we learnt about the different types of cloth and their importance in West African culture. As a group we were able to discuss, debate and decide on all elements of the exhibition; from choosing what textiles to exhibit, to the styling, layout and construction of the gallery space. Overall we wanted the exhibition to be an enjoyable experience that leaves a strong visual impact on the visitor”.

Style Africa
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
For more information, visit www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=1797


Teens in Museums Manifesto #teensinmuseums


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Teenagers are a hard to label group, although many have tried: Millennials, Generation We, Global Generation, the Millennial Generation, and Generation Next.  Regardless of the title we or anyone else give them, the fact is they are currently a stealth group in the cultural world — but this, happily, is changing.

Internationally, Teens in Museums and Culture are slowly getting the respect, time and resources needed to help build programs that they want, rather than programs that we think they want or that tick boxes. This is due to an influx of dedicated personnel who are inviting teens in to museums, taking the time to listen, and providing them the space and opportunity to let them create their own programs, to be involved in new exhibitions, and to have an impact on institutions and culture in their communities.

At the very least, every program should provide a platform for teens to share their thoughts, ideas, and passions.  If resources allow, progressive programs should assist the teens in providing them a channel to convert the ideas into a reality. For example, let them take over an area in the museum or gallery and listen to where they want the placement of artefacts. Or allow them to change the labels to be teen friendlier (and in ‘Plain English’). Share their voices with those of senior staff members and vice versa.

Many of us know of, or have at least heard of, programs like this.  The real challenge is sustainability.  How can we ensure the ‘Millennial Generation’ are allowed to forge their mark in the cultural world in a way that is both meaningful and realistic but also provides value to museums and galleries, as well as their visitors?

This challenge is different for each venue.

Excellent examples in the United States include Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab; here within the UK, the Museum of London’s Youth Panel and Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Art Forum each provide a dedicated platform for teens to work with the venue on a long-term bases, and most importantly with purpose.

Purpose, we feel, is key.

Being a teenager is difficult; you’re finding your feet. You’re not a child anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. You don’t want to be patronised, but you still need guidance while you establish yourself and gain confidence. So purpose and value is crucial. If what you are doing has a result and will change, enhance, or enrich yourself, the cultural institution, and/or the local, national, or global community, then it has purpose. It’s not an easy balance to achieve but it can be done, and we’ve seen it being done well.

With all this in mind, we felt an International Teens in Museum Decree/Manifesto was required.

  1. Listen to what Teens are saying. Answer their questions, question them, and work together to find answers and solutions.
  2. Engage with Teens; don’t patronize them.
  3. Provide achievable challenges which can created sustainable solutions.
  4. Promote learning as a challenge for Teens to solve.
  5. Create an environment where Teens can explore digital media where appropriate.
  6. Bring teens into projects from the start, not as an after thought.
  7. Provide adequate space and time for challenges to be achieved.
  8. Be flexible.  Many teens can’t commit to meeting same time every week.
  9. Don’t make assumptions. (For example, not all Teens have Facebook or iPhones.)
  10. Let teens actively build your institution’s assets.

What are your thoughts? Are you working with teens?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!  

Please join us on  Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin 

Teens in Museums is a coalition with Mar DixonMilwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab (NB Museum of London Youth Panel joined as of Sept 28)

If you would like your venue to get involved, please let us know. 

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