‘More than just a project’

October 19, 2010

National Museums of Scotland do some great outreach projects with all kinds of audiences. But they are trying to integrate their outreach more closely with the other activities in the Museum, with some interesting some unexpected results.

For example, a film project called ‘One Nation – Five Million Voices’ interviewed a wide variety of people  in a fairly light-hearted way about what being Scottish means to them. This film is now in integral part of the display ‘Scotland: A changing nation’. Using the words of people who call Scotland home, themes such as the best and worst things about the country (the weather featured a quite a bit in the worst!) and particular Scottish words (from now on I’m adding fankle (tangled up or confused) to my vocabulary) are explored. What the museum staff had not anticipated, though, was that an English as a Second Language provider would develop a whole set of resources around this film, because it so perfectly met their need to introduce colloquial language.

NMS has a number of 'Discovery' spaces, where families can explore some of the ideas presented in the Museum

Indeed, a number of museums I have visited have specific programs for adults learning English – from regular conversation classes to specific projects to work with recent migrants. Hardly a surprise, given that museum texts should be written in simple language, making them an ideal resource. At NMS, they are also using some of these contacts to help them review their texts and to provide some feedback on prototype interactives. What better audience to help them ascertain whether the language is clear and unambiguous?

Outreach staff are also working with the Volunteer Coordinator to see if there are ways that people who have come into contact with the Museum through the outreach programs can play an ongoing role – for example, can young people’s tours be developed with young people as guides? Similarly, people from different cultural backgrounds have particular connections with certain objects – which could form the basis of guided tours. In this way, the ‘tour guides’ can learn new skills, and the Museum can broaden its public program offerings.


2 Responses to “‘More than just a project’”

  1. Catherine Says:

    Yet another museum looking at Identity! Really interesting to read about the unexpected results. Sounds like they’re forming great partnerships through these programs.

  2. Hi Catherine,
    Yes indeed! I have been given a copy of the film that they made, so will show you when I get home.


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