Animating calls to make museums more accessible
15 Sep 2022
Chris Ross, Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer, on the launch of a new animation which highlights calls for the changes needed to make museums exciting spaces for all.
The importance of museums, as well as galleries, theatres and other cultural spaces, for young, developing minds cannot be understated.
To quote the Perth ‘Living Museums’ project group:
‘Museums show us where we have been, what we have done, they can connect us to our past and our present.’
For children and young people, they provide opportunities to learn about what has come before, to consider the world as it is today and to imagine what could be different in the future. With all this potential, we also know that for many children and young people, museums are not seen as spaces ‘for them’.
The Living Museums project, delivered in partnership by Children in Scotland, aimed to tackle head on this sense of museums not being spaces for young people. It did this by providing opportunities for three groups of young people aged 14-21 to shape the work of museums in the area that they live.
Across the project we worked with groups in Dumfries and Galloway, Perth & Kinross and Stirling to identify solutions based upon involving young people in creating ideas, content and future plans.
As well as exploring the impact of the pandemic, the Perth & Kinross group focused on the issue of accessibility within museums. They discussed their own experiences of accessing museums and reflected on how it too often felt like active steps to being more inclusive were not being taken.
To share their views with the museums sector more broadly the group created a short animation. It explores how museum spaces can affect young people and the small changes that can be made to make a big difference for everyone.
The group identified that taking small steps, such as considering relaxed openings for events, options to change lighting, having clearer labels for exhibits and more training for staff would make museums inclusive and welcoming spaces for all.
Taking this action should be at the forefront of the minds of museum teams as they continue wider discussions about the role of heritage and culture in an ever-changing world. We have no doubt that many museums are already taking positive steps, albeit with limited budgets. From our work across Living Museums, we know there is still a long way to go.
So the animation highlights that critical need for interventions and improvements to be made. It also highlights the need for more of a shared approach to ownership of museums and other cultural spaces.
By engaging with children and young people (and of course other groups) more actively, and including them in decision-making processes, museums will become far more reflective of their needs. This will improve experiences overall and increase engagement with culture and heritage to allow everyone to share the benefits.