Ironbridge Gorge Museum
We started off at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Coalbrookdale where Coalbrookdale Primary and Telford College were invited to Take Over two exhibitions. Having this diverse age gap proved to be very successful.
After the meet and greet, everyone went to the Sports and Science exhibition and an exhibition within Enguinity museum. The pupils were briefed on what to do: Look around and be honest – what do you dis/like? What would YOU want to see?
Paul and I followed the pupils and managed to film a few interviews. During these interviews it was evident from everyone involved that this day was making an impact on both parties. The museum had heard verbal feedback already which was going to be use and most of the pupils felt extremely proud to be part of this project. It was also when I noticed the college pupils scepticism.
We they returned to the conference room they were asked to work in their groups (each school was divided into 2 groups). They were provided flipboards and asked to discuss what they wanted to improve. The primary schools were freely writing their thoughts down, but the one group of college kids didn’t seem to quite get the point. I went over to work with them to push them to think a bit. What I heard was both painful but an eye opener.
- Museums aren’t for us as we’re too thick.
- Never been to this museum / didn’t know it existed.
- Never been to a museum.
- Museums are for old people.
- Museums are for really young people.
- Too expensive.
- Why do they always have to write a report after they visit a museum (especially at their age)? They associate museums with boring reports.
I challenged them to take their thoughts and come up with a solution. How could Ironbridge improve these issues they felt kept them from coming here. They did and in doing so they started to explore different concepts and ideas and also thought internally of what was stopping them.
- All groups then shared their ideas:
- More interactivity
- More diverse sports to be represented
- Lower entrance fees for students
- More modern teams to compare with teams shown
- More paraolympic activities
- Improve on Marketing
- Too much text
The next project saw them again in four groups, but this time with a mix of college and primary schools at each tables. Each group was provided an envelope to determine what they were to do such as work on advertising, marketing, exhibition, etc. They had a budget to work with and price guides to help. This allowed the kids to see the juggling act that is an issue for all museums first hand.
We managed another few interviews – including the curator at Ironbridge and the teacher at the Primary school. On and off camera they had nothing but positive praise about Take Over Day.
What a good day all the staff are really useful. I think they need to do these events more often -Daniel Barlow Telford College Arts & Technology
Brilliant poster ideas as well! Maybe we should always have young people working with us at the Museums! – Ironbridge Core.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
We arrived at Wolverhampton Art Gallery just in time for lunch J This allowed us an opportunity to talk to the staff (Angela, Katie and Paula) that have been working with the kids all morning. They have been working with a group of 13 secondary pupils from various schools ranging from private to public. Again, choosing the diverse selection allowed for some amazing feedback.
The kids have been split into groups and worked with three different adults throughout the morning. They were allowed access to two new exhibitions that aren’t opened to the public and asked the important questions:
- What would you do?
- What would bring your age group to visit?
- How would you advertise them?
- What activities do you think should be done to compliment this exhibition?
They were also provided a tour of the Art Gallery and asked to identify what could be done to improve to ensure their age group came through the front door.
We were able to interview the Angela and Paula together. Clearly Take Over Day was not only productive but very inspiring for them – both were implementing changes to the activities planned on the new exhibition. They also explained that last year they were worried the day would have been too scripted as such and were so overwhelmed with how things actually was going they were already excited for next year!
After lunch, Paul and I met up with the group and listened to what they were going to be doing. As the group was going to be split into three groups, we went to each one throughout the afternoon to see how they were doing.
Group A: Being journalist. They had access to camera, computers, etc and were encouraged to go to around the art gallery and be a journalist. What did they like/dislike. Changes they would like to see, etc. How would they market them? How would they use social media? What would they put in the press releases?
Group B: Exploring activities that can be used with the new exhibition opening. These activities have to be geared towards their age group and will be used with the Easter/Summer activity pack the Gallery sends out.
Group C: Working to create interactivities for the Victorian Gallery / Community case. They were provided the scenario of Yorkshire Pudding Exhibition. They had to research and determine what fun and educational activities they could add in the gallery while still fitting in the budget.
(These activities were also done in the morning but the afternoon they were swapped about).
- All felt the event was very productive and educational for them.
- They also felt very proud that their ideas and suggestions were going to be used.
- Some have asked about internship/ work placement at the Art Gallery
- They felt marketing was an issue.
- These students were different from the Ironbridge group as all have been to the Art Gallery before, usually with school but not always.
The young people brought a real buzz to the Gallery on Friday. It was delightful talking to them and hearing about what they were doing both at school and in the sessions. They filled lots of flip chart paper and had some great ideas which we look forward to realising in the coming programme. I really hope that we shall be able to repeat this event and well done to Kids in Museums for suggesting it – a great idea. – Corinne Miller, Head of Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage.
Coming away from my first TakeOverDay, I can’t express the volume and depth of the importance this day was for both the museums AND the kids. All criticism (positive and negative) was acknowledged, ensuring the kids knew immediately their voices matter. Knowing honesty was not only allowed but encouraged and their opinion were going to make a difference meant the world to the kids involved.
Huge thank you to all museums who took part for opening their doors and for listening to the feedback with open ears and hearts – you made a difference to these kids by getting involved.