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Making meaning in museums: (How) Is community participation research?

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The British Museum

Great Russell Street

The Hugh and Catherine Stephenson Lecture Theatre and West Clore Foyer

London

WC1B 3DG

United Kingdom

Event description

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Finding out, understanding, interpreting, sharing and building relationships are processes that happen in many different areas of museum and heritage work. In some museums and heritage institutions these processes are named and claimed as research. In other places the same processes are described as learning, participation, or community/public engagement.

This seminar will explore how and why we might locate museum participation and co-creative practice within the more established methodologies of action/participatory research (for example Anthropology, Health and Development studies). The aim is to question this divide and explore the impact of framing all the multiple ways of knowing, finding and creating information as variations of research.

Samples of the questions we will be asking include:

  • What is thought of as research in museums?
  • What are considered valid ‘ways of knowing’ and what are sometimes not in museums?
  • Who gets to authenticate/validate knowledge and why is this different for non-traditional museum partners?
  • What alternative approaches to ‘ways of knowing’ might be found in the participatory research practice of other disciplines? How might these be adapted for museum use?
  • What can be gained by changing and widening the frame of what is considered research in museums?

The day will consist of a mix of speakers and round table discussions.

Confirmed speakers include

Jean McNiff, an independent action researcher and writer, Professor of Educational Research at York St John University.

Peter Reason, formerly Director of the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice at the University of Bath. Peter was an international leader in the development of participative approaches to action research.

More speakers to be announced.

This seminar is aimed at practitioners, researchers and professionals.

For those who need it we have a limited number of travel bursaries to offer.

For more information contact: ParticipationSeminar@britishmuseum.org

Background to the seminar:

The seminar is the first event of a new research project. This project, initiated at the British Museum, is a collaboration between researchers from the British Museum and partners from the University of Leeds and Brighton & Hove Museums. The project originated in a shared interest in the conceptualisations and effects of different ways of producing knowledge in museums and how to better frame participatory practice as research. The results of the September event will feed into and shape forthcoming workshops held in Leeds, Brighton and London, which aims to produce a collaborative publication.

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Date and Time

Location

The British Museum

Great Russell Street

The Hugh and Catherine Stephenson Lecture Theatre and West Clore Foyer

London

WC1B 3DG

United Kingdom

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