Children and Young Persons Co-ordinator, Graham Moore, talks about Kids in Museums Takeover Day at Weston Park:
Inviting a group of teenagers to take control of your museum or even part of it is quite a scary concept but that is what Kids in Museums Takeover Day is all about. One Friday in November museums up and down the country invite children and young people to get involved in running activities, offering tours and posting on social media as well as many other opportunities behind the scenes.
At Museums Sheffield we took the opportunity to invite a group of young people to run our drop in session for under 5s and the lunchtime storytelling session at Weston Park Museum, and invited another group to run family craft activities in the museum on a busy Saturday.
Year 10 students from Stocksbridge High School planned the under 5s activity session during the week in school and arrived early at the museum on Takeover Day to set up in time for the first toddlers to arrive. While a number of the students helped the young visitors with the activities, others donned our Snowy the polar bear suit to walk round the museum advertising the session.
Once this session was over it was an opportunity for the group to try out their storytelling skills to an audience of under 5s - a pretty daunting task! The group took it in turns to tell stories to a small gathering of parents and children and clearly grew in confidence as the session went on. By mid-afternoon the whole group looked pretty worn out by their efforts.
Saturday morning came and it was time to let our young people go to work again. This time Year 9 students had planned activities for a family drop in session that included mask making, puppet making and origami. The students threw themselves in, enthusiastically creating example of the crafts and engaging with families in the Activity Room. Our Snowy suit was again put to good use, touring the museum and recruiting families to the activities.
We asked the group to describe what they expected from the day prior to their visit and then to reflect on the day afterwards. Those who had never visited the museum before imagined it as formal, silent and not too busy - a stark contrast to their post visit comments which included fun, exciting and welcoming.
Takeover Day is designed to give young people opportunities to see inside museums in a different way and to potentially stimulate their interest in careers in the cultural sector. Many of the young people said it had helped them to gain confidence in talking to people and gave them a better understanding of what museums do.
It was an enjoyable experience for everyone involved over the two days and a learning curve for all. Looking forward to next year’s Takeover Day I’d like to see more young people taking over more of the museum and to discover just how far we can take this. The young people involved have already expressed their interest in coming back for more so bring it on!
Find out more about Kids in Museums Takeover Day here.
Image: Year 10 students from Stocksbridge High School. Image © Museums Sheffield
Nov 30 2016