Twelve teenage Museum Ambassadors; three galleries in the Fitzwilliam Museum, 45 teachers and family members. Recipe for disaster right? Wrong! Our Museum Ambassadors from North Cambridge Academy set themselves the aim of creating an event that showed that ‘museums are fun and for everyone’.
“Thank you for giving us this opportunity, you are going to be part of my favourite memories of secondary school.” – Riya, Museum Ambassador
We have a responsibility to support young people and our communities to make decisions and grow in confidence while engaging with our museums. Our Teens Takeover events enabled the young people to pick the galleries they wanted to work in and then carefully budget and plan activities for each space.
I loved the ideas that were developed from Egyptian style makeovers to weapon displays in the armoury. We had it all! The ambassadors took their job very seriously, in particular the Finance Manager who had to be convinced to spend any money. It was incredible to watch the young people grow in confidence and start to negotiate with each other. They really gelled as a team. They worked together over 4 months to plan the event. During this time they composed emails and letters to Keepers and Curators at the Fitzwillam Museum checking the activities they had planned were appropriate for the galleries. They worked with Suzanne Reynolds & John Lancaster on a previous project which gave them a basic understanding of conservation issues & how we must protect our objects. So they were very understanding when some of their ideas were unsuitable.
So what did they organise?
Studio – wax modelling inspired by Degas
Seminar Room – a photobooth room with a selection of props and costume
Egyptian gallery – tours with Keeper Helen Strudwick….
…and Egyptian-inspired eye make-overs
Armoury – two costumed interpreters who demonstrated how armour was worn and how to fight
Gallery 5 – drawing challenges encouraging people to spend time really looking at the paintings and sculptures in the gallery
“I feel like an adult.” – Vicky, Museum Ambassador
18 out of the 30 evaluation forms we had back agreed that the event had changed their opinion of the Fitzwilliam Museum. With one person saying, “Yes, for the better.”
Did anything surprise you about our event?
“All of the girls were great at guiding between the spaces and very professional. It was great to see how respected they are by the museum staff.”
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so ‘hands on’/interactive”
What did you learn today?
“To look closer.”
What was your favourite part of today and why?
“Having the Egyptian make-up and being able to listen to the curator at the same time.”