VSG conference part 2!

claire rSorry for the delay in blogging about the remainer of VSG, but I’m lacking in steam, so heres some tit bits of what stood out for me.

Ok, so one of the really great things about the VSG conference was the workshops.   I like presentations, but I really like getting in to the nitty gritty of the projects that the presenters are discussing.   One of the workshops that I went to was by the Maggie and Andy from Chester Zoo and it was really interesting finding out more about their project.  Their workshop title ‘Getting the Most out of Words’ focused on focus group conversations and how you make sense of that in a robust and reliable way. We were given a transcript and were asked to code it.  Quite a difficult task, when the codes were very zoo specific.  On several occasions many of us slipped into using generic learning outcomes to highlight the dialogue. It was interesting to see how they went about coding the transcripts, the approaches they took and why.

Another workshop I attended, was forced to abandon the seminar room and we ended up sitting under the shade of a tree in the park.  It was a welcome relief from the unbearable heat.  This workshop was with Shelia Watson and was looking at how to get the best out of focus group work.  Their was quite a lot of evaluation consultants in the audience, so it was more an open discussion about focus group experiences and what works and what doesn’t.  Cake and wine seem to be a good call…

The Marketplace of Ideas.

Right so to the marketplace! This was why I was invited.  Its quite a good idea, it gives the delegates a chance to wander around and chat to different projects and museums and find out in more detail about what’s we’ve all been up to.

i talked about:

“Geevor Rocks – Inspiring and engaging hard to each audiences”

Due to Geevor’s unique location, collections and heritage it has attracted many of the traditional museums ‘underrepresented, excluded and hard to reach audiences’.   During the marketplace delegates can explore the way in which the local community has driven and shaped the development of the UK’s largest mining museum. This encompasses the involvement of local people in creating exhibitions, employment of ex-miners, project work to conserve the significant site archive, working with SEN and NEET groups, collaborative work with rural schools, a volunteer led Oral History Project, and community involvement in the governance of the charity.

I didn’t really get a chance to look at anybody elses projects apart from:

“Journeys of Change – Supplementary Schools learning with Museums”

Louise Lamming, from Brent Museum and Archive got their nearly as early as me to set up!  (Lousie however looked rather more stylish with her wheelie outreach suitcase, then I did struggling with a standy upy poster thingie).  Her project is really interesting and something Geevor should definitely get involved with.  At the moment the learning team focus on key stage 1 and 2, because the learning team is so small, that’s all we can manage! Never the less we’re really good at it and won the Sandford award in 2007.  But we are hoping to expand our horizons, and we will, eventually! We have the ideas (and things are in the pipeline already), just not the man power to do it all… yet! Anyway Louise told me all about working with supplementary schools.  The project involved 3museums – the Imperial War Museum, Brent Museum and Brent Archive, and Hackney Museum , who worked with supplementary schools in their local areas. Each designed projects which met the unique learning needs of each school.  This closeness of working is brilliant especially for Geevor who is part of a small community, if we could get some projects on the go like this one with the after school clubs and the children centre it would be fab! But that means funding funding funding!

The final day started with Richard Sandell discussing ‘New ways of Seeing: Capturing visitor engagement with social issues’. Richard talked about Rethinking Disability.  My tweets about this presentation caused a bit of stir with the question “are museums the place to change social attitudes towards disability?”

Museums are trying to engage visitors in debates about contemporary social issues; the problem seems to be now; should they? How do museums go about doing that? And how do they capture and analyse the social effects and consequences of doing so?  Big questions. Big answers are still required.

Next was Verity Walker.  I really enjoyed this presentation, Verity is a very engaging speaker.  She started with an ice breaker for us all, making us stand up and turn around and wave I think.  Her presentation entitled ‘confronting apathy through interpretive planning’.  This was a absolutely brilliant look at how to work with a ‘hard to reach’ community in Merkinch, near Inverness.

Verity’s tips:

How to make your project fail in an apathy rich community

  1. Stick up posters
  2. Hold meetings in the local church
  3. Present a powerpoint
  4. Complain at the people who do turn up, about the people who haven’t turned up.

Wise lessons there for us all!

The final session of the day was Gail Durbin discussing ‘using the web to engage new audiences’  all I need say are tattoos, beachs and knitting. Genius. Pure and simple.

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