Museum News – 23rd July 2018

I usually share links on social media so that non-subscribers can view my newsletters but there seems to be a fault with the new platform ECC are using which means the link doesn’t work. Therefore I am sharing the information on my blog.

If, since the GDPR changes, you are no longer receiving my newsletter but want to, or if you are a new subscriber, you can sign up here.

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  • Upcoming Essex Meetings

Collections Trust Event

The Collection Trust will be holding a free training day in Essex on Friday 12th October. We are looking for a venue to host and for everyone’s input on what subjects the training should cover. They are willing to talk about a range of documentation-related subjects including policies and procedures, the new SPECTRUM guidelines, backlogs and collection reviews. To have your say, vote online here

If you are able to offer a venue, please email amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk

 

  • SHARE Updates

Benchmarking – Deadline Friday 31st August 2018.

It’s that time of year again! The annual Benchmarking return collects data from museums around the region regarding visitor figures, income, staff and volunteer numbers etc. This data can be used by museums and SHARE for advocacy, funding applications, planning and all sorts of other things. You can see how your museum compares to others of a similar size or collection, compare data from different years or use it to illustrate the contribution your museum has had to the local economy and community.

The data that you provide should be for the period 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018. The deadline for completing the survey is Friday 31 August 2018.

For more information about why you should take part in Benchmarking and how to get involved, click here

 

New Creative Communities Network

SHARE is launching a new Creative Communities Network. Building on the work of the previous Co-Production Network, this peer-support group is for any museums looking to engage more closely with their local communities. The first meeting will be this September in Ipswich. For more information, and to give your availability for the first meeting, click here

(Please do email me at amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk with your contact details to go on the mailing list as well as filling in the poll).

 

  • Funding and Opportunities

OFBYFOR ALL

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is running a fully-funded international museum development pilot called OFBYFOR ALL. The project is based on their phenomenal success in community coproduction, which has seen their annual budget increase from $700 000 in 2011 to $3 000 000 in 2018. It is led by their director Nina Simon, author of “The Participatory Museum”. For more information, click here 

 

Grants Of Up To £90,000 For History Makers In England

“The third and final round of the AIM Biffa Award History Makers Programme is now open for applications from AIM member museums in England. Check your eligibility and find out how to apply here.

Grants of up to £90,000 are available to support museums by creating new exhibitions featuring the lives and achievements of extraordinary, historical figures who have made a significant impact on the industrial, creative industries and arts, scientific, commercial or social history of the UK, helping to shape the world we live in today.

We want the funded exhibitions to be inspiring and exciting – especially for young people – and we are very keen to hear about exhibitions that would feature female history makers, notable people from the 20th century and people that have made a positive impact in the different and diverse communities of England”.

 

“AIM Conservation Grants: Next Round Closes 31st September

Does your museum need financial or practical support for a conservation project? AIM members can now apply for the next round of our conservation grants which close on the 31st September.

The round features three different funding schemes: Remedial Conservation Scheme, Collections Care Scheme and Collections Care Audits. Find out more and how to apply at: AIM Conservation Grants: Next Round Closes 31st September

 

Building Connections Fund

“Following the Prime Minister’s and Minister for Sport and Civil Society’s announcement to unlock £20m funding to tackle loneliness (as a part of Government’s ​wider endorsement of the Jo Cox Commission recommendations​), a new £11.5 million Building Connections Fund has been set up to support projects that are able to prevent or reduce loneliness.

 

The fund is a partnership between Government, Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op Foundation and aims to:

  • increase social connections, helping people form strong and meaningful relationships and creating a sense of community and belonging, and helping people feel more connected
  • support organisations to build on their existing work, eg by reaching more people, or working in a new area or with a different method or group of people
  • encourage organisations to join up with others locally
  • improve the evidence base and use learning to inform longer term policy and funding decisions”

More details, including how to apply, can be found here

 

WH Smith Community Grants

“The WHSmith Trust is now offering grants of up to £500 to voluntary organisations and schools from the proceeds of the compulsory carrier bag levies across the UK. Grants are awarded every six months to charities, schools and community groups of any size, provided they support the community in the UK.” For more information, click here. 

 

Heritage Lottery Fund, 1-on-1 Advice sessions, Wednesday 1th August, 11.00am – 3pm, Hadleigh Old Fire Station, High Street, Hadleigh, SS7 2PA

“Do you want funding? Do you have an idea for a heritage project? Then book a slot with Sally to find out how we can help!

Call Sally Page 07790375405 or email; sally.page@hlf.org.uk to book a 30 minute 1-on-1 slot to talk about your idea and find out more about our funding.”

 

“AIM Members: Sign Up Now To Receive Free Digital Membership Of The Social History Curators Group

Members of AIM can now take advantage of free digital membership of the Social History Curators Group (SHCG). This offer is available until 31st August and the free membership will run until 31st March 2019.

The Social History Curators Group was formed to improve the status and provision of social history in museums and the standards of collections, research, display and interpretation.

The group is a friendly community of history practitioners, people with an interest in social history and those that work directly with social history in museum collections. You don’t have to be a curator or an established professional to join – the group is open to anyone who works with social history.”

 

  • Resources

Heritage Watch

Has your organisation joined Heritage Watch, an Essex Police initiative to battle crime against museums and other heritage sites? Find out more here

 

Freelancers

SHARE has produced two new guides, one for museums wanting to work with freelancers and one for individuals wishing to go freelance. Both are available on the SHARE website

 

East of England Emerging Museum Professionals (EEEMP) Network

There is a new online network for people in the early stages of their museum career, living or working in the East of England. More information is available here

 

  • Vacancies

 Vacancies at Colchester and Ipswich Museums

CIMS are currently recruiting for two posts:

-Assistant Collections and Learning Curator (Natural Sciences), Colchester/Ipswich, £20,043 – 23,574, 37 hours per week, Closing date: Wednesday 1 August, 2018

Senior Collections and Learning Curator, Ipswich, £27,360 – £32,884, 37 hours per week, Closing date: Friday 17 August, 2018

You can find out more information here.

How to Write a Post for Facebook

The third in our social media series from Louise Winters:

Fabulous Facebook posts for your museum

Whether you have a personal Facebook account or not, it can be a bit daunting to start writing posts for your museum’s Facebook page. If you do already use Facebook at least you have an idea how it works and what kind of things other organisations post. Even so, it is a different thing to be posting on behalf of an organisation instead of just for yourself.

If you don’t normally use Facebook then the whole thing may seem really difficult. If you’re in this situation, try asking a friend or neighbour who does use Facebook to show you how it works before you sit down to write your first post.

Get writing: What is normal on Facebook and what isn’t?

One of the really nice things about Facebook (and all other social media) is that it can be fun and informal. It isn’t like a press release or a newspaper article. Social media is for short, friendly, eye-catching updates that let you get to know what someone or an organisation is REALLY like. The other brilliant thing about social media is that your followers can talk back by leaving comments. This is great: you should encourage people to reply to your posts and always reply to any comments and messages you get from followers.

Here are the three things, in order of importance, to keep in mind when creating a post for Facebook:  be FRIENDLY, make it CATCHY and keep it SHORT.

1/ FRIENDLY
• Your post should be friendly and talk to people as if you know them. Your aim is to make them feel welcome before they’ve even set foot in your museum.
• You don’t have to be formal and start with ‘Dear all’ or ‘Dear Visitors’ as you might in a letter or email.
• Do use ‘We’ when writing posts instead of I. You are writing on behalf of the museum, which is a collection of people so ‘we’ is better
• Write about things that are ‘behind the scenes’ or that show there are real people at the museum e.g. exhibition set up, birthday cake for a colleague or views you enjoy.

Lovely sunny spring post by Chelmsford museum:

http://bit.ly/2qRqPcW

• Ask questions to encourage a conversation – don’t be disheartened if no one replies at first. It can take a while, but keep asking. E.g. “We really enjoyed today’s event, what was your favourite bit?”
• Say thank you to people. For example: thank you for coming to an event, for helping to raise money, for volunteering at the museum or for replying to your posts.

Here are 2 examples that show the friendly side of museums:
https://www.facebook.com/chelmsfordmuseums/photos/a.440481002658800.99515.104334979606739/1657203684319853/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/museumbraintree/photos/a.404737529547592.86988.202985223056158/1468412493180085/?type=3&theater

2/ CATCHY
• Use interesting and eye catching words that really tell a story about whatever you’re trying to write about. “Beautiful glass vase” is more interesting than “Nice vase”.
• Use easy to understand words as you don’t know who will be reading your posts.
• Include photographs or videos as they catch people’s attention more than words alone. Be careful to credit the author if you use someone else’s video or photograph.
• You can also try searching for gifs (animated pictures) and emoji to brighten up your post.
• If you link to an article or blog post online Facebook will usually show the article title in the weblink preview so you can focus on giving new / extra information.
Examples showing museums being catchy by using descriptive words (“fantastic”, “sister, wife, lover, mother”) and photos:
https://www.facebook.com/museumbraintree/photos/a.404737529547592.86988.202985223056158/1473422179345783/
https://www.facebook.com/southendmuseums/posts/1864464276912550

3/ SHORT
• Get the most interesting bit in the first line. Don’t build up to it because Facebook often only shows a few lines with an option to click to see the rest.
• People skim through their Facebook feed quickly so make sure you’re friendly, but to the point. Ideally don’t write more than 4 lines.
• Including a photo, a gif or a video is a good way to convey an idea immediately. Make sure the photo, gif or video is relevant.
• If you find you often want to write long posts, consider writing blog posts to go up on your museum’s website and then sharing a link with a photo and a 1 line introduction or summary on the Facebook page.

Good examples of short, to the point posts with great photos and a photographer credit where necessary:
https://www.facebook.com/epolicemuseum/photos/a.111531825582471.12468.107798892622431/1239553546113621/?type=3&theater
https://www.facebook.com/TelegraphMuseumPorthcurno/photos/a.222240081120101.67350.187033977974045/1455608367783260/?type=3&theater

Keep writing –  Things to avoid doing:

Hopefully the tips and examples above will help you get started or increase your confidence when writing Facebook posts. Social media is informal and mostly very forgiving of the odd mistake, however there are a few things to think about to avoid causing offence and making your museum look bad:
• Don’t let people forget about you. Posting 1-2 times a day is a good amount. If you can’t post that much then a minimum of 2-3 times per week is good to aim for.
• Don’t use someone else’s intellectual property without their permission and without crediting them, especially photographs.
• Be wary of posting photographs of children without parental consent, even if you took them.
• Don’t share information that is private or shouldn’t be in the public domain.
• Think carefully about what you post and ensure it isn’t offensive and remember that something you consider funny may be seen as an insult by others.

Now you’re armed with some simple tips for how to write a great Facebook post: Good luck! Do you have any tips of your own to share or any posts where you got a really good response? Please share them in the comments below.

 

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

 

INTO Museums: Why Use Social Media?

Welcome to the first of a series of posts by social media expert, Louise Winters.

Louise is endlessly fascinated by people and their stories and loves seeing and helping people using social media to share things they care about. Her experience includes working in a social media agency with corporate clients across Europe, but now much prefers working with the public sector and small businesses as they’re a lot more friendly! She now manages social media and blogs for various clients, as well as offering training to get other started.

 

Why do you want to use social media for your museum? It can seem like a distraction from the core job of running the museum every day, especially if you’re not sure how to use it or why it is useful.

The main reason to use social media is to bring people into your museum. It is great because you don’t need an advertising budget to use it, just some time to set it up and post updates regularly. By posting on social media or writing blogs you give people who wouldn’t normally come to your museum a chance to find out about you without even having to leave their homes.

If you consider their point of view, why would someone decide to visit your museum? What would interest them and what might stop them from realising how much they’d enjoy it? The answers to those questions will be different for different types of people (for example, parents with small children, teachers who want to inspire their students, older people who’re interested in local history). Because you post small bits of information often, you can use social media to share things that are interesting to these different groups of people. Once they know your museum is interesting to them, they’re more likely to want to visit.

I don’t know that much about social media – can I really help?

Yes! You can! You know all about the museum: why the collections are valuable, how important it is to preserve the stories the museum and its collections tell for future generations and what people will find fascinating, educational or fun. No one will know about your museum if you don’t tell them and social media potentially allows you to share your enthusiasm with so many people!

So your main reason for using social media is to share the enthusiasm and passion of people already ‘into’ museums (like you) to get other people to realise they’re ‘into’ your museum. Once they understand why it matters to them they’ve got a reason to physically get into your museum.

Image for blog 1

Who do you want to talk to?

As well as knowing why you’re using social media, you also want to know who you most want to talk to using it. This will help you write your posts with relevant groups of people in mind. It is fine to write one post aimed at parents and the next one aimed at older people who live locally. Here’s a simple exercise to help you figure out which kinds of visitors you’re most interested in appealing to and what will attract their attention.

1/ Which age group visits your museum most?

  • Write this down and think about what would be interesting to that age group (for children also consider what will interest their parents)
  • Which age group do you wish would visit the museum more?

2/ What do you think visitors enjoy about your museum?

  • What types / ages of people enjoy each thing?
  • How can you demonstrate to a person in one of these groups that they’ll probably enjoy it too?

3/ What do your colleagues like best about your museum?

  • Write this down for all your colleagues and think about the type of person or age group your different colleagues represent.
  • How can you share your colleagues’ enthusiasm with new people?

4/ How are your museum’s collections relevant to the everyday lives of people who live nearby?

  • What kinds of things are most relevant to different types of people?
  • How can you share and show that to people who have never visited the museum?

5nr/ For the different types of people you’ve identified above:

  • What might put them off visiting the museum? Can you change this? If yes, how and how can you tell them about it?

If you need a head start on thinking about different age groups or types of people here’s a list: Primary school age children, Secondary school age children, Parents who live locally, Further / Higher Education students, Young adults from the area, Tourists, Older people who live locally

Tell stories about your museum to specific types of people

I guarantee you won’t have answers to all those questions. That is absolutely fine! Whatever you’ve written down will be useful. Social media works best when you have an idea who you’re trying to talk to for 2 reasons (i) you can focus different posts on different types of people with different interests (ii) it gives you some inspiration for social media posts by thinking about what previous visitors or colleagues enjoy about the museum.

The things you’re enthusiastic about are a good indication of what other people will get enthusiastic about. Think about it from the perspective of a few different types of people and you’ve got a great start on stories to share that will make people want to come see what your museum is all about!

 

Please do get in touch, I love saying hello:

On Twitter: @pinkyandnobrain

By Email: me@louisewinters.com

On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisewinters/ 

My website: http://louisewinters.com/

Periscope and the Paraloid Sandwich: Upcoming Demonstration and How To Access It

(@EssexMDO)photorealistic_logo

One of the most common techniques for writing an identifying number on a museum object is a technique known as the “Paraloid Sandwich”. It involves writing the number between two layers of a chemical varnish.

 

Emma Cook, Museum Development Officer for Bedfordshire, and I have become aware that while YouTube is populated with numerous videos demonstrating methods for labelling objects for which the Sandwich isn’t appropriate (e.g. costume collections), this technique isn’t covered.

 

However, rather than just create a video, we thought we’d experiment with the streaming app called Periscope. Periscope you to broadcast video live and people following you on the app or who have clicked a link on Twitter can watch and even send in questions. The video then stays on Periscope for 24 hours. However, we will also then be able to upload it to YouTube, where it will be available for anyone to watch.

 

Therefore I am very happy to announce that Emma and I will be live-streaming a Paraloid Sandwich demonstration on Wednesday 25th May. We will repeat it 4 times, so you can log in, watch demonstrations and ask questions at 12:00, 12:30, 13:00 and 13:30 (British Summer Time).

 

So, how can you view our demonstration and ask questions?

 

  1. Download the free Periscope app to your mobile or tablet and set up an account
  2. “Follow” me (EssexMDO)
  3. Have the app or tablet connected to the internet between 12pm and 2pm on Wednesday 25th May

Additionally, a link will post on my Twitter account (@EssexMDO) every time we go live. You can click that link to watch along if you have Google Chrome as your web browser (Internet Explorer doesn’t work).

 

If you want to watch, but can’t get online at that time, it will be available to watch for 24 hours via the Periscope app.

If you do not have access to the app, we will then be making the video available as soon as possible via the SHARE Museums East YouTube account. Links to the film will be posted on this site and others.

What Essex Sounds Like: Soft Launch of Essex Sounds Audio Map

Sarah-Joy Maddeaux, You Are Hear Project Officer at the Essex Record Office, talks about the sounds of our county:

For the past six months, the You Are Hear project team at the Essex Sound and Video Archive has been asking the public what Essex sounds like. Whether stopping innocent passers-by in shopping centres, appealing to the public through newspapers, or calling for suggestions through e-bulletins, we have been asking you what noises you hear in your daily routine; what noises you associate with the county; what sounds represent your community.

Now we have the answer! Well, to a point. We have compiled the results with our sound recordist, Stuart Bowditch. Based on your suggestions, he has been venturing into the far corners of the county, braving all weathers, to capture those soundscapes. And now you can hear some of the results on our audio map, Essex Sounds.

MaldonHunt

The hunt parade through Maldon, 1st January 2016. Image courtesy Stuart Bowditch.

From church bells to firework displays; the sounding of ship’s horns at Tilbury to bring in the New Year to the annual New Year’s hunt parade through Maldon (yes, he managed to capture both, and more besides that day!): see if your suggestion of an Essex sound has been recorded.

In our public surveys about Essex sounds, many people commented on a perceived difference between the north and south of the county. Commonly, people considered the southern part of the county to contain more industrial noises, more hustle and bustle, more crowded atmospheres: with more people speaking with a London or ‘TOWIE accent’. The north was depicted as quieter, more rural, where the people are more likely to speak with a ‘traditional’ Essex accent.

Is this an accurate depiction of the county, or is it over-generalised? Why not consult the Essex Sounds map to see if it reflects this north-south divide?

The map also enables comparisons between old and new sounds of the county. We have uploaded some historic recordings from the Archive. For example, you can listen to an auction at the Chelmsford cattle market in the 1950s.

 

You can then compare it with a recording made on that site in 2015, capturing the busy atmosphere of High Chelmer on a Saturday. Try it out here

 

If your sound suggestion has not yet been added, do not fear: our site is still a work in progress. Stuart will continue to record Essex sounds over the next few months, gradually uploading them to the audio map. We will also keep adding historic recordings as they are digitised, as part of this Heritage Lottery Funded project. We are happy to receive further suggestions of places and events to record, though we will not be able to include everything within the scope of the project.

In the next phase, our web developers will build an app version. By the autumn, you will be able to take the map on location, listening to the clips in the very spot where they were first recorded.

In the meantime, why not contribute your own recording to the site? We want the map to fully reflect your experiences of what Essex sounds like. You will find instructions on the ‘contribute’ page, but please get in touch if you have any questions.

We would be delighted to talk to any museums that want to use the Essex Sounds map for engagement activities. Maybe you want to host a recording day, encouraging people to venture out into the surrounding area with their phones and tablets to capture what your community sounds like in 2016, then upload the fruits to the map. Or perhaps a workshop is more up your street: inviting theorists and practitioners to review the material and discuss how the sounds of Essex are changing, and what this means about bigger socio-cultural shifts. How does sound affect our sense of place? What sounds are absent in our collections, and how can we redress that for future generations?

We would love to hear any feedback you have, so that we can continue to improve the site and pass on your comments to our website developers, Community Sites. Please be gentle with us, though: we are still in the development phase! We would also be grateful for any volunteers to test the map more extensively, particularly if you are using accessibility software. Please get in touch find out more.

For more information about the You Are Hear project, you can visit the project site. You can also listen to more recordings on our Soundcloud channel.

 

From summer 2016 to summer 2018, we will be showcasing a selection of our recordings on interactive touchscreen kiosks and listening benches that will tour public locations across the county. We are also looking for volunteers to help us with installing listening benches in the following areas:

  • Burnham-on-Crouch
  • Chelmsford
  • Clacton-on-Sea
  • Coggeshall
  • Epping
  • Great Baddow
  • Great Chesterford / Clavering
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Witham

Please get in touch if you want to be a part of our tour, or if you can help with the community benches.

Heritage Lottery Fund

 

 

Thought and Notes: Museums Association Conference 2015

MA Conference 2015a

Sharon Heal presents statistics from the Code of Ethics consultation

Earlier this month, I attended my fourth  Museums Association conference. Several things struck me over the course the event. Firstly, the people care about making the sector better and stronger. Secondly, that we don’t have the answers on how to do that yet. Thirdly, more change is coming.

Big themes this year were ethics, diversity and the continuing changes happening in our sector.
The revised Code of Ethics was voted in. If you haven’t read it yet, I advise you to do so. Not only is it a cornerstone of accreditation but it’s a living, breathing document that should influence our everyday practice no matter the size of our museum. The code has been compiled in consultation with museum  staff and volunteers across the country. Given recent controversy over sales from collections, it is not surprising that good practice round disposals continues to be a key element. Reflecting 21st century practice the code also covers sponsorship and recommends that museums seek to work with partners whose priorities match their own.
Museums Change LivesSeveral sessions looked at diversity in the workforce. This is a debate that has been going on for several years and there are no easy answers. Many museums are actively looking for ways to change. Apprenticeships and other work-based training schemes do seem to have had some success, although it is too early to tell if the individuals taking part will continue in museum careers. Some people are concerned that creating additional temporary entry-level jobs when the sector is so competitive is a mistake. I believe that this is a debate that will continue for quite some time, but that it’s good that museums are trying new and different ways to recruit.
With councils being forced to tighten their purse-strings even more, and the Comprehensive Spending Review coming up at the end of the month, it sometimes feels like there’s little time or money for anything creative to happen in museums. However, there were some excellent case-studies which are well worth checking out. For example, Richard Gough from Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust talked about corporate volunteering, which is something our own Museum of Power have good experience with. The Conflict Resolution session included some heart-breaking stories of how museums have the power to knit communities back together, such as the Historical Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo, National Museums Northern Ireland and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. However, the session that really blew me away was “More Than Reminiscence” by Tunbridge Wells Museum and Canterbury Christ Church University. They’ve been doing some fantastic work with dementia groups and their model is easy and low-cost to follow. Have a look at their tool-kit and see if it’s something that you could use with your own collections.

Opening Doors: Notes on Rethinking Disabled Access and Interpretation

On 15th September 2015, the Museums Association ran a one day seminar entitled Opening doors:  Rethinking Disabled Access and Interpretation In Your Museum. Amanda Peacock, Learning Officer at Chelmsford Museum, attended that day with a grant from Essex Museum Development and has kindly shared her notes from the day:

I wanted to share with you some of the interesting ideas and forward-looking practice that were presented at this excellent MA Seminar on the theme of disabled access and interpretation in the museum. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), now in its 20th year, was established to prevent discrimination against disabled people accessing goods, services and buildings amongst other things. Other than a lift to get to the top floor and a disabled loo, I was interested to learn what museums could do to further improve access for disabled visitors to their collections as well as to the building itself. Also how, or if, disabled people are represented in museums, whether museum collections include objects that reflect the lives of, or have been created by disabled people in our society past or present. Throughout the day there was a live speech-to-text transcription displayed on a big screen. This service was provided by a company called ‘StageText’, which provides access to deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors.

Tony Heaton, chief executive of Shape Arts and our Chair for the day, made the comment in his introduction that, ‘museums should be fully inclusive and welcome people with disabilities not only as visitors, but employees and artists too.’ Improving access and facilities for disabled visitors can be a challenge for those institutions that are in listed buildings, but access is not just about installing a lift, what about intellectual access? Museums need to consider their collections, are they fully accessible to disabled visitors or are there barriers that discriminate? How do they use them – is there appropriate gallery support such as: audio visual aids, subtitles on videos, handbooks, appropriate lighting, considerate interpretation or clear signage?

Jocelyn Dodd and Richard Sandell from the University of Leicester spoke about their work with museums in relation to disability access, participation and representation. A variety of organisations were involved in the project, which challenged museums and heritage sites to look at their own collections in a different way. They evaluated displays for diversity, searched databases for relevant material and considered how they would interpret these objects with disability in mind. One of the more important outcomes was that museums should work more collaboratively with disabled visitors, rather than stating what the museum can offer them. Overall, the project enabled museums to explore the potential to reframe collective attitudes towards difference.

Next to speak was Emma Shepley, Senior curator at the Royal College of Physicians, who discussed its award-winning portraiture exhibition ‘Re-framing disability’, that explored four centuries of hidden history through rare portraits from the 17th to the 19th centuries, depicting disabled men and women of all ages and walks of life. The 2011 project involved 27 disabled participants who explored the human stories behind the portraits and discussed the relevance to their lives. The project culminated in an exhibition of recorded interviews, essays and photographic portraits that went on tour to ten venues, including the House of Parliament!

Anna Harnden, museums, galleries and heritage programme manager at VocalEyes, lead an interesting participatory exercise around object interpretation for blind and partially sighted visitors and those with other sensory impairments. Delegates were given a picture of an object and had to think about the barriers visitors might face in accessing it and how other senses could be utilised for fuller engagement. There were lots of great suggestions, but Anna did emphasise that it is not enough to just describe an object, the reasons why it is important to the museum’s collection is equally important.

To end the Seminar, Becki Morris, collections assistant at Heritage and Culture Warwickshire, explored in some depth how visitors with ‘invisible disabilities’ (dyslexia and other neurodiversity conditions), experience museums and Trizia Wells, inclusion manager at Eureka! (The National Children’s Museum) highlighted how its award winning access programme has been embedded throughout the museum. For example, they asked families what they wanted, which included: an inclusive, welcoming attitude from staff members, affordable and appropriate activities and clear information for visitors. As a result, the museum developed: a training programme for all staff (including online courses), free activities tailored to specific disabilities, support from local groups, an ‘access’ tab on the homepage of the website, a DVD virtual tour of the museum and weekend and holiday clubs to name but a few! In conclusion, the museums that are most effective at removing barriers to access seem to be those that collaborate closely with disabled people and adjust their offer accordingly.