On Wednesday 4th February, SHARE Museums East and ROH & NNF Bridges ran their third annual Children & Young People Conference at Coleridge Community College, Cambridge. “Object Lessons 2- Celebrating Creativity and Partnerships in work with Children and Young People” was attended by museum staff, volunteers and freelancers from throughout the region and the full programme can be found here.
Catherine Hammond, Education and Outreach Officer for Epping Forest and Lowewood Museum Services, shares her thoughts and experiences of the day:
“I had really been in two minds about attending the SHARE conference. As is so often the case, with so much to do and so little time, a day in the office catching up with current projects seemed a good option. But, once again the conference proved a good reminder of the importance of getting out, sharing ideas and experiences, and most of all being inspired by the huge amount of talent and creativity within the sector.
The day got off to a good start with a warm welcome by Bev Jones, head teacher of Coleridge Community College, our base for the day. Bev’s commitment to developing creativity and a sense of community amongst the students in her school and recognising the role museums can play in this make her a great advocate for our sector.
The keynote speakers all set clear messages for the day – Susan Raikes, from the British Museum gave a timely reminder that ultimately it is the objects in our collections that are at the centre of memorable, inspirational learning experiences. Paul Collard gave us some fascinating case studies of putting creativity at the heart of learning, what this can look like and what it can achieve for young people.
The breakout session ‘Why should I bother with arts award’ by Ancient House Museum in Thetford, answered the question very well. I was convinced to give it another go in our museum by the demonstration of very simple but highly effective ways of delivering it as part of an existing programme. There was also a wonderful bonus presentation by a member of the teenage history club at the museum, a wonderful advocate for the benefits such a group could bring both to young people and the museum itself. I very much hope they get their funding to visit Japan to develop their project on flint – to inspire such ambition and ideas among young people was a testament to how much confidence this group had given them.
After a good lunch, the breakout session on Lifelines, the Start Hospices project by the Fitzwilliam Museum was a very informed presentation about the value of working with families with life limited children and the practicalities of what such work can involve. It was particularly interesting to hear how much support was available from practitioners within the hospice movement itself, from psychologists who could help with managing the personal and emotional challenges of working with this group to family workers, art and play therapists.
Jo Roberts’ presentation on establishing a framework for professional development was a timely reminder of how important it is to place a value on our skills and experiences to ensure museums do recognise the value of having experienced practitioners in learning roles at a time when many museums are facing cutbacks.
The final project reports from SHARE’s Takeover Day Cohort members Francesca Pellegrino at Lowewood Museum and Nollie Cacciatore at Much Hadham Forge Museum, showed how flexible this programme is in terms of how you choose to deliver it, but that having Takeover Day as the focus really helps to get young people on board.
Steph Parmee, from Gainsborough House Museum closed the day with an entertaining and reassuring presentation showing how well even smaller specialist museums including Newmarket Horse Racing Museum have adapted to the challenge of the new curriculum and continue to offer creative learning experiences that directly engage learners with their unique collections.”
The film of Lowewood Museum’s Takeover Day project is available here. Jo Roberts was presenting on the Group for Education in Museums (GEM) new foundation course in Museum Learning, more details of which are available here.