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If you go to a museum on Friday 23rd November, you’re in for a big surprise. That’s the day on which museum directors, front of house, curators, conservators, website designers and catering staff will be replaced by children. Look out for the ‘I’m Taking Over’ stickers they’ll be wearing.
Friday 23rd November is Takeover Day in museums, the day on which young people are given a meaningful role. Independent charity Kids in Museums has teamed up with the Children’s Commissioner’s initiative to give children the chance to be in charge. Children and young people takeover roles usually reserved for adults – including designing exhibitions, managing front of house services, marketing and conservation work. In one museum, they’re even authorizing the staff holidays!
TV historian Dan Snow, Kids in Museums Patron, says, ‘It sounds scary – but it’s great that over 1000 kids are part of Takeover Day, taking over museums up and down the country, doing stuff that usually only adults do. It’s a great opportunity for kids to get really stuck in and up close to history, heritage and all the wonderful things museums can offer. Some are even being in-house historians and archaeologists. They’ll be putting me out of a job soon!’
Here’s just some of the other ways in which they’re taking over:
Museum of London Docklands
Forty-five 9 to 11 year olds will be Museum Visitor Hosts and Gallery Actors for the day. They’ll run front-of-house operations, greet visitors when they arrive and take charge of the heart of the Museum – by managing the information desk and talk to visitors in the galleries. They’re putting on plays about children’s lives in Docklands’ past every half hour between 10.30am – 2pm. The performances are all produced and researched by the pupils themselves. They will dress up in period costume and bring to life the story of pirates in London, the 1889 Dockers strike, life on the high-seas for a Victorian sailors and the devastation of the Docklands in WWII.
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Shussh … it’s a museum secret. Eighteen ten-year-olds are creating their own secret codes to lead visitors on a journey around the gallery. They’re also hijacking the social media sites to share what they’re up to.
Corinium Museum, Cirencester
An archaeological site has been discovered and some
exciting new objects have been brought into the museum. But instead of men with beards, it’s children who are the archaeologists, processing and documenting the finds, making drawings, taking photographs, adding the new objects to the museum’s database, and finally displaying the
objects with labels in a temporary exhibitions case.
Poole Museum, Dorset
To prove that kids are up to anything, children are really taking over Poole Museum. Six children will be manning the Front Desk, meeting, greeting and assisting in the shop, patrolling and giving tours and talks, and answering local history enquiries in the Poole History Centre.
Want to find out what other museums are doing? Or to cover a museum in your areas?
If you’d like to cover Takeover Day at a museum, just email [email protected] and we’ll put you in touch for photo opportunities and interviews.
To find out more about Taking Over Day in museums – and who‘s taking part – go to www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday.