Our Outreach and Eduction team have recently been working with children and young people on the Young People’s Archive, a segment of the larger Children’s Lives project, with the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery. The project explores the history of children’s lives from the eighteenth century to the present day and, in particular, reflects upon the presence and intervention of adults in the lives of children and young people.
The Young People’s Archive project has aimed to record and document the stories and lives of young people today, and to introduce young people’s voices into the archives and into the Children’s Lives exhibition at the Gas Hall. The project engaged with two schools, in different areas of the city; Four Dwellings, Quinton, and Waverley School, Small Heath.
Specific task-driven working groups were established, designed to give the participating pupils insights into different skills and professions:
- Recorders Group – to record oral histories, undertake interviews and produce social documentary photography
- Curators Group – to curate, plan and organise the exhibition
- Archives Group – to catalogue material for the project archive
- Communications Group – to support in the writing of a blog; inform the wider body of pupils at their respective schools about the project, and how they might get involved or contribute; write speeches for assemblies and for the exhibition’s launch event
Aside from the clear importance of the activities with participating pupils, what was clear was the huge learning curve for professionals and services when undertaking a project like this. Projects like this offer opportunities for significant step-change in professional learning and development, enabling future projects and activities to borrow massively from the expertise developed. The best ideas, creativity and work come about through engagement, whether with people or with the issues themselves. Relevance, inspiration and innovation all come through direct contact.
Big thanks to the wider service for their continued support!