An Intergenerational-Friendly Museum Experience
The Age Friendly Museum Network, supported by the British Museum, seeks to increase the participation of older people with museums and create opportunities to enrich their lives.
Our pilot project trialed how a museum could create new, non-traditional ways for older people to interact with museum collections, which also provided opportunities for student volunteers.
We worked with Glenside Hospital Museum to develop their existing outreach activity – a ‘pop-up museum’ which regularly travels to community centres across Bristol to share stories of the museum and it’s collections. The idea was to adapt this work into a reminiscence activity, to take their pop-up museum to care homes for object handling opportunities for residents, supported by student volunteers.
We have created a downloadable publication to shares these experiences.
With top tips for developing a handling collection, advice for partnership working, as well as guidance on running your own intergenerational-friendly museum project.
- To create opportunities for museums located in urban areas to better engage with elderly, vulnerable audiences beyond a traditional way
- To encourage museums to recruit student volunteers on a more flexible basis, as well as to help them build the infrastructure and partnerships to do this well
- To provide more opportunities for museums to test, experiment and illustrate the potential for engaging in the agenda of health and wellbeing
- To demonstrate how loneliness and social isolation in both age groups can be addressed by museums
- Glenside Hospital Museum
- Bristol Hub at the University of Bristol
- The Bristol branch of Alive Activities: a UK-wide charity working to enrich the lives of elderly people
- Lizzie Mee, Learning and Safeguarding Consultant
The reminiscence sessions were delivered at three care homes; they were short and informal, taking place in a communal space in the home to encourage a relaxed atmosphere and conversation. The student volunteers, led by Glenside’s Curator, introduced the history of the Hospital, where the museum is based, before introducing the theme of caring for people who are unwell and how the museum’s collection helps to tell that story.
Groups of residents were each given a handling object to unwrap, inviting an air of mystery and sense of discovery, whilst volunteers started off discussions about what the objects might be and how they were used to care for people. The volunteers facilitated feedback from groups in turn; discussions often drew in the whole group, while more objects were being unwrapped. Volunteers helped to continue conversations with individual residents.
There was a positive impact for both students and care home residents from the human interaction at the sessions and the engagement with the museum collections. Both the care homes and the museum welcomed the involvement of students. This pilot provided vital lessons about partnership working, preparing to involve student volunteers and delivering sessions outside the museum, in non-museum environments. Read more in the pdf version of our publication.
To all the project partners listed above for support with the practical implementation of this project, and to the Baring Foundation who funded this work through the British Museum’s Age Friendly Museum Network.