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Living Museums: young people shaping culture and heritage


Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NHLF) and with support from Historic Environment Scotland, the Living Museums project took an in-depth look at how the museum sector can appeal to, and engage young people aged between 14 and 21.

Through our previous Heritage Hunters project we discovered that young people are less likely to get involved in or visit museums.

Living Museums was an opportunity to address this, and to reflect on our evolving understandings and perceptions of heritage.

The project:

  • Examined the barriers that young people experience when accessing museums
  • Explored what things could improve the situation
  • Encouraged more young people to get involved
  • Shaped how museums engage with young people
  • Was an opportunity for museums to capture and reflect young people's current priorities and different aspects of their lived experience

Click here to find out more about our Heritage Hunters project

A core element of the project is bringing together young people with museum partners to ensure their voices and experiences are represented and reflected at every level, from strategic decision-making to on-the-ground delivery.

The project has been split into two main parts. You can find out about Phase 1 of the project further down the page.

Phase 2 

Phase 2 of the project began in January 2021.

In Phase 2 we will work in partnership with three museums, across three localities. We will also be supported by a youth work partner in each area. The work will take place in the following areas:

  • Dumfries and Galloway (Dumfries Museum & Dumfries and Galloway Youth Services)
  • Perth and Kinross (Perth Museum & YMCA Tayside)
  • Stirling (The Battle of Bannockburn Experience)

Across 2021 we have worked with a group of young people in each area, partnering with the museum to improve their practice in working with young people.

The groups built their knowledge and understanding of museums and culture. They also thought about how this related to their lives. Each group then chose a topic to focus on and decided to produce an exhibition that demonstrated the sorts of issues young people were interested in and how to produce young person-led content.

The topics covered included mental health, contemporary collecting and youth employment. Exhibitions took place in the museums from August - October and shared the views of young people on topics important to them.

Key Outputs from Phase 2 

Generation Change booklets 

We've published two new booklets about the work of the Stirling Living Museums group, which culminated in an exhibition at the Battle of Bannockburn experience in August 2021.

Booklet 1 provides an overview of the work leading up to the exhibition, Generation Change: Young People’s Participation in Protest, and shares some of the content created by the young people.

Booklet 2 collects poems, films and spoken word pieces that young people working with Toonspeak created for the exhibition.

Click here to download Booklet 1: Generation Change overview

Click here to download Booklet 2: protest poetry collection

Youth unemployment animation 

As part of the the exhibition in Dumfries Museum the project group had an animation produced to share the views of young people on the topic.

The group wanted to show the experiences of young people in Dumfries and Galloway and the difficulties people face in getting a job.

Click here to view the animation. 

Older project information

Phase 1 

Phase 1 of the project was delivered from July - October 2020. It involved recruiting a national group of around 10-15 young people to explore their experiences of museums and investigate the barriers that get in the way of young people being involved or engaging with museums.

The slideshow below captures some of the group's key messages about what needs to change.

     Calls shared on social media for the Make A Change – Make       
     History campaign

Get in touch

If you have any questions about the Living Museums project please contact Chris Ross


Final Project Report

The end of project report highlights successes and how to maintain the momentum

Click here to download

Booklet 1: Generation Change in Stirling

Summarising young people's work on the theme of protest with the Battle of Bannockburn Experience

Click here to download

Booklet 2: Protest poetry collection

Poems, films and spoken word pieces used in the Young People’s Participation in Protest exhibition

Click here to download

Living Museums - Perth group

Find out more about the activity that's taking place in Perth

Click here for more

Living Museums - Stirling group

Find out more about the activity that's taking place in Stirling

Click here for more

Living Museums blog

"We want a space where conversation and reflection is actively encouraged"

Read the blog

Living Museums blog

Unlocking opportunity: exploring new ways to create employment in the art world

Read the blog

Living Museums film

Find out more about the project in this film that was produced for the launch

Click here to view

Dumfries Museum

In Dumfries and Galloway we will be working with Dumfries Museum

Find out more

The Battle of Bannockburn Experience

In Stirling we will be working with the Battle of Bannockburn Exeprience

Find out more

Perth Museum

In Perth and Kinross we will be working with Perth Museum.

Find out more

Consultation Work with Children and Young People

Our participative approach ensures children's voices are at the heart of our work

Find out more

Our projects

We undertake a diverse range of work that supports our aims

Click to find out more

Participation & Engagement Guidelines

Our principles & guidelines for meaningful participation of children and young people

Click here to download

Meet the Participation and Engagement team

Find out more about our team, areas of expertise, and how to get in touch

More here