WHICH IS BRITAIN’S MOSTFAMILY FRIENDLY MUSEUM?
GUARDIAN FAMILY FRIENDLY MUSEUM AWARD
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
The launch of the 2007 Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award is made in the Guardian Arts pages this Monday 3 September. Visitors and volunteers – anyone of any age – can make a nomination. Museums and galleries are also welcome to nominate themselves. For details go to http://www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/ It’s already the biggest museum award in Britain, attracting over 1000 entries. It’s also the only museum award to be judged by children and families. To contact Kids in Museums or order copies of the Kids in Museums Manifesto illustrated by Quentin Blake, firstname.lastname@example.org
I deliberated about this for a few weeks as I thought one of the member organisations or campaigns for museum and gallery education might set up a successful Facebook group. However, so far none spotted. I reckoned that what is needed is a neutral space, a network to bring together different organisations, campaigns and individuals. A Facebook group is just a node for individuals to face each other and connect. It works better than forums on organisation websites because you can find out more about the individuals, and their connections or projects, and you can communicate with them directly. I like the ease and informality of it. It takes 2 minutes to create a group, about 4 minutes to email a few people about it, then leave to brew. Anybody can join, no commitment is necessary and it’s free.
The group is called Learning in Museums and Galleries. You can find it by searching in Groups on Facebook.
Those who prefer anonymity can make their Facebook profile private. You can be sent a message by anybody but only your friends can see all your details.
My friend Will asked for recommendations of any good exhibitions in London he could see. I don’t get much time to see exhibitions I fancy, only ones related to work. Here’s one I recommend that I’ve had something to do with, Visible Difference at the Royal College of Surgeon’s Hunterian Museum – the museum is well worth a visit in itself:
And we’re working for the Wellcome Trust at the moment. I’ve always loved the Wellcome’s exhibitions but now they have a permanent space – with a temporary exhibition on the heart: http://www.wellcomecollection.org/
Apart from that, if I had time I’d see:
The wonderful-looking summer pavilion at the Serpentine, just opened a bit late, the site for science-art experiments including lots of stuff about sonic arts.
It would be easy to pop into the National Gallery to see Scratch the Surface, with works by Yinka Shonibare:
And in early September, I’ll be going to this ICA film screening that is apparently taking place in some kind of pod or pods in Trafalgar Square. The films are by artists, inspired by songs.
World Press Photography at the South Bank Centre:
And the South Bank is so lively this summer, for example, Peter Blake making a giant piece of public art:
As I’m into book art and bookish illustration, this Codex exhibition sounds intriguing:
If you could make it down to Dulwich Picture Gallery, their exhibition about childhood sounds interesting and very well done.
And I’m most looking forward to seeing the Terracotta Army marching into the old British Library Reading Room, in 3 weeks time. Really interesting piece about this here: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/art/2007/08/terracotta_army_fights_for_a_f.html
I just happened upon this article reflecting on the view, based on research, of a French political scientist that sport causes crime http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/10/30/put-down-that-basketball-sport-causes-crime/
It might be tempting to think there is something in his argument, especially those of us who experienced school sport as aggressive, competitive and pointless, finding that we got more exercise running from the school to get away from those sporty kids who were bullying us. It might also be tempting to champion this news, for those in the cultural sector who may be concerned about a shift from culture to sport in the run up to the Olympics. However, it is clearly simplistic. Sport, or the whole realm of physical activity, is a very broad field from rugby to yoga. It is possible to organise sports activities in ways that promote co-operative and peaceful behaviour. Personally, I do have a distaste for competitive sports and I’m not sure that in themselves they do promote greater understanding and respect between groups of people and countries. But I do think exercise and taking responsibility for your health are important and I welcome the huge changes that are taking place in and beyond schools to put this higher up the agenda. The more closely that physical education is connected with arts and culture the more attractive and the more it seems to encourage sensitive behaviour. I hope that the Olympics programme will connect sport and culture as much as possible, and bring the museum and gallery sector on board to help with that.
Olympics 2012 have appointed a Head of Education, Nick Fuller, and the education programme will be launched next year. This will include both sports and cultural activities, so we wait to see how we can all get involved:
Camden Young Archaeologists is inviting museum, history & heritage educators to a free one-day conference at the British Museum, on October 4th. This is a three-year programme providing new and exciting out-of-school learning activities for children and teenagers, as well as their families and the wider community. The Project is led by the Camden’s Arts and Tourism Section, managed by the Out of School Learning Service and supported financially through the Heritage Lottery Fund, working with a range of cultural organisations including University College London (UCL), London Archaeological Archive Resource Centre (LAARC, Museum of London), the British Museum, The Foundling Museum, Sir John Soanes and the Hunterian Museum, and the London School of Diving.
The innovative project kicked off in 2005 with ‘A Slice of Camden’ at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL), with a day at the London Archaeological Archive Resource Centre (LAARC), N1, giving a first taste of the world of archaeology. During the week, children had the chance to do a mock excavation of real, rare Roman, pre-historic and zoological artefacts, compare and contrast the objects and practice recording and drawing them. Studying these buried objects helped them learn about how their predecessors lived, and understand how important conservation work is.
One of the aims of the Camden Young Archaeologists project is to introduce new groups, from communities in Camden, to some of London’s finest cultural organisations, which are local to them but which they may not previously have had the opportunity to access.
The Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Partnership has just announced an extension to the Big Lottery funded ‘Their Past Your Future’ programme. They invite museums, libraries and archives to apply for funding for phase 2 projects from 2007-10, MLA will manage an annual funding programme offering grants of between £500 – £10,000 to museums, libraries and archives in England. Organisations may use this funding to develop programmes, workshops, exhibitions and events which promote understanding of the impact of conflict. There are two strands: work with children and young people and inter-generational learning. The closing date is 19th October 2007. You can get further details from each regional MLA, and seminars are offered to guide you in making applications.
This is an important programme and it should be fairly easy to apply.
If anybody is organising an event and wants to reach local audiences by putting up posters on trees or public surfaces, be aware that this practice is now against the law (the Clean Neighbourhoods Act). You can be prosecuted and fined £75 per poster. It happened to me, but I was let off with a caution:
The creators of this new Museum Education network on Ning http://museumsweb2.ning.com/ say there is no other similar group in social networking sites, and also that it fits a need because it’s very focused. However, news of this group on Facebook has just come in too.
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2375944138 Indeed it doesn’t focus on education, but then nor do I. Somehow Facebook works better for me than Ning, because I’m often there already. And I like the fact that this is UK-based and I’m more likely to know and work with some of its members.
Then just as I was thinking that my attitude was a little bit isolationist, along comes the temptation to join an international version of the Facebook museums group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2435702276
The latest engage journal is out: engage 20 Strategic Interpretation.
“This issue samples current thinking about interpretation from the point of view of museum and gallery professionals. What does interpretation include? Who and what is it for? What makes for a good interpretation strategy? Contributors consider theoretical models of interpretation; art practice which serves a direct interpretative function; and different approaches in practice – including interactive models, using young people as interpreters and differing cultural traditions.”
For more http://www.engage.org/readmore/ejournal.aspx
I found the most interesting articles were the first four, each one providing a different kind of overview of interpretation. Helen Luckett finished her overview of interpretation over the years, with a list of quite simple ideas for refreshing interpretation e.g. make a deliberate mistake in a label, or run eavesdropping events ostensibly for children but really for adults. She invites more ideas. Heather Lynch’s research provided some useful insight from Scottish gallery managers, reflecting on how galleries are responding to the ‘access culture’ or the ‘social model’ that is driving cultural interpretation. I most enjoyed Cheryl Meszaros on ‘Interpretation and the Hermeneutic Turn’ as it accorded with my beliefs. She is critical of the ‘whatever’ school of interpretation, which validates any interpretation of artefacts however tangential or personal. She explores how it is possible to validate such interpretations but to extend them in the context of received ideas and meanings. Claire Robins is interesting about artists interventions in museums. It focused on interventions in the past (e.g. Daniel Buren and Fred Wilson) and has left me keen to put together a survey of more recent projects.