It’s just once week until Kids in Museums announces the winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award! The Devil’s Porridge Museum is delighted to have made the shortlist and a week today (on Monday October 14th) three representatives of the Museum: Chairman Richard Brodie, Access and Learning Officer Steven Bogle and Manager Judith Hewitt, will be travelling down to London to attend an event where we will meet the other shortlisted Museum and hear about their projects (and also hear which Museum has won, of course!)
It has been a big thing for us to be shortlisted and is a credit to the dedication of our team: staff and volunteers. We have a very supporting community who appreciate the work we do and we thank them for nominating us. Seeing what could be perceived to be a ‘small’ and comparatively new Museum on such a big stage is great.
We studied the Kids in Museums Manifesto quite seriously before signing up to it (and displaying it in our foyer and creating a mammoth trail based around it). It really chimed with the Museum staff. It has helped motivate us to take action or clarify things such as our breastfeeding policy, our approach to people bringing packed lunches to eat with them and our provision of steps for younger children to use when they visit the Museum and in the toilet facilities as well. Our Kids’ Secret Chill Out zone worked so well in the summer that we have kept a relaxation area as a permanent feature of the Museum. We’ve been paying attention to the best practice of other museums and this has led to resources such as our Museum Story, touch and sound tour maps. We look forward to meeting with the organisation Autism in the Museums when we are in London in the next few days.
We try to the best to serve the people of our community and we’re particularly pleased that we have such a large number of young people involved in the Museum now in one form or another. They may attend our afterschool or holiday clubs, come along to our Halloween or Christmas party or visit as part of a school group. We also have young people woven into the life and work of the Museum as volunteers, apprentices, work experience students, interns and as the curators of our current ‘Animals in War’ exhibition. Their presence in the Museum is increasing and so is their voice. We are delighted to have had Katie and Carrick as Junior Representatives at our Board Meetings for the past few years and the new Youth Council with Calum McDougall as Youth Representative is a really positive step forward for us. The Youth Council have lots of ideas for projects which we are looking forward to pursuing. We enjoyed our Social Media takeover day back in July and are taking part in November’s Museum Takeover Day: we’re delighted that both our local primary schools are going to be involved.
We’ve been working on some great projects and we would obviously love to win to get recognition for all that we have done but to demonstrate to people that you don’t have to have endless resources or lots of staff to achieve great things. A team with a can do attitude and energy can get you there as well.
Museums can be perceived as elitist but we believe that access should always be their watchword. What are museums for if not the public and the future? Getting young people to engage with their heritage, to visit a museum, to come to it repeatedly, to see it as an active and integral part of their community which enriches their life and provides them with new and stimulating experiences is very important to us at The Devil’s Porridge Museum. We are a proud to be a community museum with young people at its heart and we thank Kids in Museums for the opportunity to share our work with a wider audience. Fingers crossed for Monday!