Saturday, November 03, 2007

Young people and museums

Came across a query about young people and museums through Facebook of all places! Have done quite a few studies with this group which are published here on my website. An interesting study we did several years ago now was with Indigenous young people and museums – that report can be downloaded here. One of the key outcomes from this for me was that young people wanted to engage with museums on deeper levels than just as visitors. They wanted to work with the collections, work in the public program areas developing and running programs for all audiences and even as meet and greet people! One of their major bugbears was not seeing people like them working in museums, therefore felt unwelcome and alienated.

I also conducted several studies with Professor Susan Groundwater-Smith called the Museum I'd like. Happy to send on any information to interested people. Now that I've thought of it again will experiment with positing examples of their work to Flickr at some point. We are repeating this exercise this year with students aged around 12-18 years and their use of digital technologies.

I also think we need to keep abreast of the kinds of studies happening around teens and the internet, as the ways they engage with content, their peers and "formal" institutions will radically change based on this new form of learning. The blog for the New Literacy, New Audiences project contains many posts on this topic. Demos also did an important paper on this issue which can be found here: Demos | Publications | Their Space. I think that report is essential reading.

I must admit though getting tired of the focus on young people when it is older audiences that are increasing and should be the focus in the future in my view! Here's the report of the Older audiences and museums study we did in 2002. I'm giving a paper on this very topic at the Lifelong Learning in Museums and Galleries conference at the National Gallery of Ireland next week. Watch this space as I post my impressions as well as the paper I'm giving.

1 comment:

Gillian said...

You can see my short paper 'Youth Audiences: Recalcitrant or Discriminating' on the Environmetrics website.

Yes Lynda, I agree that older audiences continue to be overlooked - they're just not as 'sexy' as the bright young things.