Museums holding on and moving forward
Museums, Archives and Galleries may not at first strike you as the cutting edge of children and young people's participation. But look again. And be inspired! We have much to learn about vision, values and leadership, as well of course about inspiring approaches like sleepovers with the dinosaurs!
Museums have been building new relationships with their younger public, working with them, not simply as audience, but as partners and co-creators. finding creative ways to manage the tension between protector of the public collection and provider of access to it.
Getting the shared values rights seems to have been a central plank of progress. In the South West of England SOTW museums saw how they can offer one of the few public places and spaces without prejudice for the young: "A shared space of shared interest where people, including the young, can let their minds go free and can make whatever connections and conversations they want." In Brighton and Hove, Su Hepburn grasped this changing relationship when she said: "When it rains, I want young people to feel they can shelter in the museum."
This is not about museums replacing bus shelters or alleyways, but it is about young people having a sense of belonging and ownership. Ownership, as Margaret Greaves from the Fitzwilliam witnessed, seen in a six year old child dragging her mother in to show her all the wonderful things inside!
The greater inclusion of children and young people in museums is not a distant vision. It is happening now where museums are "spaces, places and collections that spark interest, engage, surprise and offer insight and understanding of the past."
It's a refreshing challenge to be among professionals who don't necessarily do youth work, but who get the responsibility they have and the opportunity they can create for children and young people as equal citizens.
Kevin Winter's short clip is a great summary of the case for museums supporting the voice and influence of children and young people in their work: http://rightspace.org.uk/content/kevin-winter-talks-right-space