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Young people explore employment through the ages in new exhibition

28 September 2021

Times Change: Youth Work Through History opened today at Dumfries Museum today (28 September) as part of Children in Scotland’s Living Museums participation project, which aims to make museums more accessible to young people and more reflective of their experiences.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and with support from Historic Environment Scotland, the Living Museums project has been working with young people in Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling and Perth to identify how the museum sector can appeal to and engage young people aged 14-21.

The Times Change exhibition is the result of project work over the last year and explores how young people feel about youth employment and unemployment, both historically and throughout the pandemic.

A survey conducted by the project group captured the thoughts of other young people in Dumfries and Galloway on the topic, and a new animation and a series of designed images will be shared as part of the launch to communicate the findings.

Specially selected objects around the museum have been plotted on a newly prepared map of Dumfries Museum for audiences visiting the exhibition to explore.

Living Museums Project Officer, Millie Smith, said: “Through this exhibition, Dumfries Museum is showcasing a wide variety of objects and artefacts to show this journey through time. We hope that it helps audiences think about the role employment plays in young peoples’ lives – especially now, in the wake of the pandemic.

“The young people we’ve worked with have done a fantastic job bringing this topic to life and partnering Dumfries Museum to produce an exhibition that’s relevant, provocative and true to the Living Museums project’s aims of making museums more engaging for younger audiences.”

Councillor Andy Ferguson, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, said: “The young people involved with this project have chosen a brilliant selection of objects that are part of the permanent display at Dumfries Museum. Their interpretation of historic items related to youth employment is thought-provoking and I’m looking forward to seeing the animation produced to support their research.”

The young people involved spoke highly about their involvement with the project, including the process and the project as a whole.

Felicity, a young member of the project group, said: “Working on the project was fun and it was awesome to meet people who had the same interests as me but also finding an important issue and bringing it up.”

Kirsty, another member of the group, commented: “During this project I have enjoyed being part of the team, working alongside Children in Scotland and making new friends. I look forward to our meetings and discussions because they make the process fun and exciting.”

Times Change: Youth Work Through History launches today, Tuesday 28 September, and runs until Saturday 30 October.

Young people shaping culture and heritage

Find out more about the Living Museums project

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Living Museums video

Find out more about the project and its aims in this short film

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Blog: Creating accessible spaces

Group members Bronwyn and Isaac explain how museums could be more welcoming

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Blog: Unlocking opportunities

Group member Jodie discusses youth employment in the heritage sector

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Dumfries Museum

Find out more about the hosts of our latest exhibition

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Challenges of mental health and lockdown explored in new Perth Living Museums exhibition

6 September 2021

A new exhibition from young people involved in our Living Museums participation project has opened at Perth Museum.

Members of the Perth project group marked the launch of Our Lockdown Journey: Facing the Unknown through Creativity last Wednesday evening (1 September).

As part of Living Museums, which examines how to make museums and heritage sites more relevant and accessible to young people, the group chose to focus on the theme of young people's mental health during lockdown.

The exhibition has been created in the style of a young person’s bedroom, displaying items that supported the mental health of group members during the pandemic and reflecting a space where they’d spent the vast majority of their time over the past year.

A common space

The bedroom was described by one of the young people involved as “our hub”, and they stressed that “it was really good to portray what that environment was like.”

Members of the group had identified that museums could be overwhelming spaces, and accessibility was a key consideration throughout the project and the launch event.

In response to this, a sensory space in the museum, co-produced by the young people and Perth Museums, is in the process of being created.

Project group member Maden made a speech at the start of the event, emphasising how the group have become close friends and that being involved in the project has had a big impact on them as they realized that people have experienced common challenges.

Group member Billy, who was attracted to the project because he wanted young people to get more involved in museums said: “Initially what got me involved was pizza, but over time I got interested.”

Discussing the project, group members Becky and Vicky said they felt like young people weren’t the target audience for museums. Stigma should be removed and mental health discussed more, they said: “Museums have a power with engaging people, not only with the past but also with current events.”

Accessibility vs aesthetics

Jordan Irvine, Senior Officer, Communities and Learning, at Culture Perth & Kinross was open about the fact that museums struggle to engage with young people aged 14 – 26, and that they should be more proactive in working with them to shape exhibits.

He said he felt that accessibility is often overlooked for aesthetics, but museums want and need to overcome this. “If museums aren’t accessible for every body, what is the point in them?” he asked.

Reflecting on the launch, other museum staff were impressed by how the method of engaging young people had been used but recognized that this could take time.

Comments from staff about the exhibition included, “[it was] very creative and very real", and that it was "cool". One staff member said that they'd felt “challenged” by it because it raised issues about the accessibility of their heritage services: “why has no body thought about this before?”

Our Lockdown Journey: Facing the Unknown through Creativity is on display at Perth Museum and Art Gallery until 31st October 2021. Admission is free.  

Click here to find out more about Perth Museum

About Living Museums

The project looks at how the museum sector can appeal to young people aged 14 - 21

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Our approach to participation

An advisory group of children and young people help shape our aims and work

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Participation through the pandemic

This research project aims to gain greater understanding of engagement with children over the past 18 months

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Our project work

We run a wide range of projects aimed at achieving our vision for children

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Young people celebrate launch of Living Museums Stirling exhibition on theme of protest

20 August 2021

Young people taking part in our culture and heritage participation project Living Museums celebrated the opening of a new exhibition showcasing their work this week.

On Tuesday evening, the group were joined by guests at a special opening of Generation Change: Young People’s Participation in Protest, at the Battle of Bannockburn Experience in Stirling.

The show marked the culmination of nine months’ work on the project, in which the young people explored contemporary issues and recent protests.

The exhibition showcased their creative responses to the Black Lives Matters movement, climate change, women’s safety and the Palestine-Israel conflict, reflecting their hopes that museums can in future feature more contemporary exhibits and themes relevant to young people. (See images on this page for some examples of the work). 

Visitors to the exhibition on the opening night said it presented “themes that were relevant to all of us” in a “fresh” and “modern way”, and praised the young people who produced the work as “trailblazers”.

One visitor said: “I’ve never thought of museums like this before.”

Emily, who is part of the Stirling group, said: “Going forward I really hope that the exhibition shows people within the heritage sector that it is alright to do something outside of your usual box and confront issues head on. I hope that NTS take what we have done and use it as a first step to making their sites more accessible to, and reflective of, young people.”

Group member Joanne added:The fact that we have been able to create such a powerful  and successful exhibition in times like these makes it all even more special.”

Other young people involved said “it was nice…to see my issues displayed”, that they were “happy I got stuff on the walls” and that seeing the show had made them feel "pretty hyped!”

Chris Ross, Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer at Children in Scotland and the Living Museums project lead, said:

“The young people in our Living Museums Stirling group have been looking forward to showing their work to the public and we are very pleased with the response to the exhibition launch.

“The group’s interest in vital current issues such as climate change reflect their own priorities but the opening night proves the topics they chose are also important to a wider audience, who enjoyed the creative, provocative and courageous approach the young people took.

“We’re grateful to the Battle of Bannockburn Experience for hosting the exhibition. We hope that the themes explored in this and through our other Living Museums project work will contribute to better understanding in the museums sector about the issues that are really relevant to young people and what changes to the sector will make them feel more included.”

The exhibition runs at the Battle of Bannockburn Experience until 31 August.

Click here to find out more about the project

Click here for more about the Battle of Bannockburn Experience


Living Museums

Our participation project examines how young people can be more involved in culture and heritage

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Blast from the past: Young people learn to connect heritage, modernity and personal identity

6 November 2020

A new report from Children in Scotland’s Heritage Hunters project shows how it has helped connect children and young people with the past, emphasising the significance to modern life and personal identity. But the end of project report also reveals a gap in engaging teenagers and young adults with museums and galleries.

The children and young people-led project, Heritage Hunters, took place in 2019 and was built on the foundations of Article 31 of the UNCRC which states that children have the right to freely participate in cultural life and the arts.

It brought together 140 children across six projects to explore areas such as family and friends, spaces and environment, play, hobbies and technology, and how they have been influenced by heritage.

Through the project young people identified the personal connection with heritage, recognising its uniqueness and differing interpretations based on individual lives and experiences. Many also spoke about the strong link between heritage and personal identity.

Learning was demonstrated with a range of outputs, from a museum exhibition to the creation of a children’s book.

However, the project has also highlighted a gap in engagement, with young people revealing that they are less likely to get involved with heritage opportunities or visit museums.

This finding has led to the launch of Children in Scotland's Living Museums project, designed to improve access to museums for young people and share their experiences.

Jane Miller, Children in Scotland's Policy and Participation Officer, who worked on the Heritage Hunters project, said:

“During the Heritage Hunter’s project we heard from young people about the importance of being able to define their own understanding of heritage.

"The project has been a springboard for the Living Museums project which supports young people to re-frame, challenge and evolve our understandings of heritage"

“Responding to the highlighted gap in engaging with teenagers and older young people in the heritage sector, ensuring museums feel  like representative and inclusive places will play an important part.”

The Living Museums project launched in July 2020 with the Make A Change, Make History campaign, calling for action from the museum and heritage sector. Phase 2 of the project will bring together museum partners with youth settings to co-design three projects to encourage more young people to access and engage with museums.

Click here to read Heritage is Something That Defines You, the Heritage Hunters End of Project report 

End of project report

Read our Heritage Hunters report 'Heritage is Something That Defines You'

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Heritage Hunters project

The Lottery Funded project designed to connect children and young people with the heritage sector

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Living Museums project

Exploring how the museum sector can engage and appeal to young people

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Living Museums Blog

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

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Living Museums blog

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

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Our projects

We undertake a diverse body of work that support our organisational aims and values

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Young people to lead new Living Museums project

2 July 2020

A group of 14 to 21-year-olds will help shape how museums engage with young people as part of Living Museums, launched today.

Children in Scotland is recruiting a group of 10-15 young people to get involved in the new participation project.

Living Museums aims to improve access to museums for young people and share their perspectives on important experiences, including the impact of Covid-19.

Policy and Participation Officer Jane Miller, who is managing the project, said:

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

“Recent events have shown us the importance of being able to reflect on our own understandings and perceptions of culture and heritage.

“Young people are important for helping us to re-frame, challenge and evolve our understanding.

“Living Museums will look at the barriers that young people experience when accessing museums and explore what things could help make things better, encouraging more young people to get involved."

Young people’s rights and the importance of communicating their stories will be at the heart of the project work.

“Young people have the right to have their voice heard and taken into consideration,” Jane added.

“We will be looking at creating new content and capturing the experiences of young people’s during the pandemic and exploring key themes that have been highlighted.

“We will work together to think of a way of collating and sharing these experiences using digital tools.”

Living Museums will also be an opportunity to explore how museums can reflect issues that are important to young people in 2020 and share their lived experiences with new audiences.

Applying to take part is straightforward – young people who'd like to be involved simply need to complete a consent form and answer a few questions.

Click here to download an information sheet about how to get involved today

The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

For more information on the Living Museums project, email Jane at


Living Museums recruitment film

In this short film Jane Miller explains the project and how to get involved

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The Living Museums project explained

Find out more about the project's aims and background

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Information Sheet

Any questions? Download an information sheet about the project and how to take part

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Consent Form

Young people interested in taking part will need to download and complete a consent form

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