Democratic Access to Museums and Heritage
British Museum Reading Room
In some heritage and culture institutions only highly trained individuals are allowed to see and touch the archives and museum artefacts, the public are denied access and are forced down a pre-determined route to view the exhibits. In this session you will look at a short essay on Democratic Access to Museums and Heritage and then participate in a group discussion regarding the meaning of access, democracy and heritage. As a group you will then design and write your own charter listing conditions that you demand for democratic access to heritage.
Democratic Access to Museums and Heritage
International Memorial Museums Charter
You will work together in a group. The trainer will provide an essay or articles about the democratisation of heritage. After reading the Essay and taking part in the discussion the you should be able to explain the issues that can be encountered when accessing museums and archives. You will also have gained wider knowledge as to what can be made available and opportunities to co-curate with the correct permissions. After the discussion you will write your own charter for a democratic inclusive museum – you could make plans to visit several local museums and reflect on how your charter differs from the real-life situations you have witnessed. The aim being to inform trainees of some of the debates around access in museums and heritage organisations. By becoming involved in the creation of the charter you will be able to introduce your own ideas and thoughts and introduce different viewpoints about heritage and culture. Some trainees may use the exercise to become more involved in their local heritage sites.
This will be a group exercise consisting of 3 parts: 1. Reading or listening to an essay about democratising access to museums provided by the group leader or participants. 2. Following on will be a group discussion about issues around traditional museum curation. The aim being to discover how other museums and installations can be adapted to include groups not traditionally included in older style museums. Discussions could be about subjects such as: a. People with autism, who may find the noise and crowds of museums a barrier to entry b. Making your local museum more accessible to people with disabilities – providing alternative access for wheelchairs, or developing resources for people with visual and hearing impairments c. There could be a discussion around taking heritage out to the community with pop-up installations such as the Mandela27 and the Lanchester Interactive Archive where the community are given permission to recreate the design of the exhibition/installation 3. After the discussion the participants will write their own charter for a democratic inclusive museum – they could make plans to visit several local museums and reflect on how their charter differs from the real-life situation they have witnessed. What are they doing? Reviewing and debating the democratisation of culture and heritage and creating their own charter Why are they doing it? To explore debates on democratisation of heritage in the context of their own local heritage and culture sites What do you expect them to get out of it? Information about current museology debates, input into how they could contribute to inclusivity in local heritage and cultural institutions.
The group will have debated and discussed the issues of democratic access to heritage and culture. They will have reviewed several resources on this theme and will have designed and written their own charter for democratisation of museums and heritage.
- Learning Outcomes: After reading the Essay, taking part in the discussion and developing your own Charter, you should be able to explain the issues that can be encountered when accessing museums and archives. You will also have gained wider knowledge as t
- Understand the issues around access to museums
- Gained wider knowledge of co-creation
- Investigated democratic charters
- Knowledge: You will have understood some of the debates around access to democratic and co-created museums and heritage. You will have gained knowledge of actions that can make museums more inclusive.
- Gained understanding of current debates of democratic heritage
- Gained knowledge of actions to make museums and heritage more inclusive
- You will have learned how to create and write a charter for democratic access
- How to create a charter for democratic access
- Competence: You will be able to work as a team to understand different view-points and include other members of the group, working together to create a new resource for democratic heritage
- Investigate current debates around inclusivity
- Work as a team
- Create a new resource
- Evaluate your own musuem or heritage site against your charter