Tim here again, and Esme too!
Firstly, the venue was amazing (totally worth the less than toasty temperature). Ely has one of the most impressive cathedrals around, which definitely demands a day to itself sometime.
There were some excellent speakers including our own Rachel McFarlane (Projects Development Officer) and Em Clarke (Visitor Services Assistant and former Trainee), who gave a talk on the perceptions of who works in a museum, particularly from children. Special mention however, must surely go to the group of primary school students who bravely stood up and delivered their thoughts on the pros and cons of museums. They spoke eloquently on how museums could be improved for their age range. It was heartening to note that many of their suggestions were already being implemented in Colchester. It was also useful to hear their thoughts on age-appropriate areas/activities, as opposed to just defining things as either “adult” or “child”.
Halfway through, the delegates were split into groups. They were then briefed and taken to a local court to re-enact the aftermath of the Littleport Riots, which took place in 1816. This was great fun and showed how history can be brought alive for young (and old) people.
During lunch we had the opportunity to network and visit The Stained Glass Museum (who later gave a very interesting presentation about being a small museum within another attraction). Bedford Creative Arts also delivered a really interesting talk, including a great tool to use when reaching out to new audiences. Essentially, the idea is to imagine yourself as the owner of a pizzeria and you want to sell to a specific, cultural group who live locally. This group may have certain requirements/regimes, but other than that, you don’t know much about them. What do you do to get them into your restaurant?
Overall, the conference was informative and enjoyable, with every speaker making interesting points. We’re really glad we got the opportunity to attend. It would be easy to write a whole essay on our time there, but sadly we have to dash off now and make some fossilised fish out of pipe cleaners. Confused? All will be revealed, right here in the next couple of weeks!
Until then, this is Tim and Esme signing off.