ICCHS and Beamish Museum projects

ICCHS staff are working with colleagues at Beamish Museum to investigate the impact of the museum’s work with older people in two, separate projects.

Beamish Museum is an open air museum which tells the story of life in the north east of England in at different moments in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. They use buildings moved from across the region to create period settings. The museum’s staff have been working with older audiences for several years. Originally the sessions took place in one of the 19th Century ‘Pit Cottages’ but recently moved into ‘Orchard Cottage’ which is a 1940s set out as a 1940s farm-worker’s cottage. The sessions have also evolved from conventional reminiscence sessions, making use of handling collections and the immersive setting, into broader sessions, involving sensory stimuli and meaningful physical activity. The aim of the sessions is to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Active Ageing & Heritage in Adult Learning

This is a European, service evaluation project funded by Erasmus+ to promote innovation in organisational practices in the field of lifelong learning.Erasmus logo

The project’s primary partners are 5 open air museums: Beamish, Den Gamle By (Denmark), Jamtli (Sweden), Maihaugen (Norway) and Skanzen (Hungary). The museums’ staff have agreed a topic and structure for delivering reminiscence sessions for older people at each venue. The plan is that the reminiscence sessions from all the venues will be broadly comparable.

Maihaugen Museum

Erasmus + project team members at Maihaugen Museum (l-r): Areti Galani, Tanya Wills (Beamish Museum) & Michelle Kindleysides (Beamish Museum)

Alongside the 5 museum partner organisations, 3 university partners were invited to develop and implement a methodology for evaluating the perceived impact of these sessions on the participants and any accompanying carers. The 3 universities are Aarhus (Denmark), Linnaeus University (Sweden) and Newcastle University. The Newcastle University team working on the project is being led by Rhiannon Mason, along with Areti Galani and Bruce Davenport (the project researcher).

By delivering comparable sessions across all the museums, and using a consistent methodology for evaluation, the project aims to generate a large body of data and recommendations for good practice in the area of reminiscence and older people.

Methodological investigations in capturing the impact of museum activities on older men with mental illness

A couple of years ago, Beamish Museum’ Active Ageing Officer, Michelle Kindleysides (an ICCHS alumni), worked in collaboration with Emma Biglands an Occupational Therapist based at Derwent Clinic, Mental Health Services for Older People in County Durham to develop workshops for a group of older men living with a range of mental ill health conditions such as depression and dementia. They developed the content of the workshops to match interests, skills, past experiences and the cognitive level of the participants enabling the men to feel they could contribute, make choices and participate to their occupational potential.

The focus of the sessions was on active participation, tapping into lost practical skills, providing meaningful engagement, and socialisation within the historic spaces of the museum and utilising the social-historical objects within the collection. ‘Jobs’ from around the museum formed the key activities in the sessions, which gave the men an opportunity to contribute to the visitor experience at large.

Anecdotal findings from the pilot, including the participant’s own remarks and the organisers’ observations, suggested that the set of workshops had a positive impact on the men’s subjective sense of wellbeing. However, evaluation methods using questionnaires proved to be intrusive and, potentially, detrimental to the outcomes of the session. So Michelle asked if we would like to get involved in trying to find different ways of evaluating the outcomes of the session.

Areti Galani is leading the Newcastle University project team with Bruce Davenport as the project researcher. The project is exploring possible evaluation methods, so Areti and Bruce worked with Michelle and Emma to develop a set of evaluation techniques that might provide insight into the impact of the workshops whilst remaining unobtrusive during the session.

Orchard Cottage

Planting bulbs in the raised bed outside Orchard Cottage during one of the Men’s Group Sessions

The project has been jointly funded by Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Institute for Social Renewal.

Both projects are ongoing. For further information, please contact Bruce Davenport: bruce.davenport@newcastle.ac.uk

 

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New Seminar on 3 June: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Please join us for another in our series of research seminars:

Title: Museums Security: New Perspectives

Speaker: Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki, Finland

Wednesday 3 June
1 – 2pm
Room 1.06, 18 Windsor Terrace
All welcome

Museums are an integral part of the cultural life of societies, with  collections that may be of not only national but international  significance. As well as intangible value, many objects may also have  considerable financial value, and pose a temptation to thieves.  Despite this, it has been noted that many museums have what can only be described as inadequate security provisions. In recent years, high profile art thefts from museums have only highlighted this situation.  Furthermore, a range of other criminal activities, such as vandalism and other anti-social behaviours can also adversely affect museums and their surroundings, which in turn impacts sense of place and visitor experience. We also know that situational precipitators (for example
graffiti or vandalism that has been left unrepaired) can act as a cue that crime is accepted in an area – the small scale offences, in fact, can directly contribute to larger scale crimes, according for example to the Broken Windows Theory. In this paper I outline the interdisciplinary research with which researchers at the University of Helsinki and Loughborough University are currently involved, which aims to shed light on the specific security challenges faced by museums, covering our research methods and the emerging findings.

Dr Suzie Thomas is University Lecturer in Museology at the University
of Helsinki, Finland. She has previously worked at the University of
Glasgow and the Council for British Archaeology, and completed her PhD
in Heritage Studies at ICCHS in 2009.

New Seminar: Walkthrough Research, Wednesday 25 February

We have an exciting seminar coming up on 25th February from 1 – 2pm.

Jakob Bak is coming to ICCHS from Denmark to speak to us about ‘walkthrough research’ techniques. More information below.

Jakob has offered to bring some of the specially designed glasses along, and will run a hands-on session after the seminar. Please let me know if you are interested in taking part in this extra session by sending an email to j.l.locke@newcastle.ac.uk

Hope to see you there.

Jakob Bak, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID)

Jakob-Bak-profile-picture

Wednesday 25th February 1 – 2pm

Walkthrough Research

Throughout the European research project “MeLa* – Museums in an Age of Migration” Chris Whitehead (ICCHS) and Jakob Bak from Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) have been developing a new method for gathering experiential accounts from museum visitors that combine video-based observational techniques with prompted reflection and guided interviewing. Applying the method in both fine arts and social history settings, CIID and ICCHS have through the project examined the possibilities and limitations of such methodology. At this lecture, Jakob will give an introduction to how this can be used in everyday cultural research practice.

Jakob Bak is Research Manager at CIID, coordinating the team’s efforts across European research projects and other activities. With a M.Sc.Eng in Design & Innovation from the Danish Technical University (DTU) as well as involvement in Copenhagen based Art and Technology collective Science Friction, Jakob’s interests spans science studies, haptics, design theory, critical making, sound synthesis and artistic practice. When out of the office Jakob conducts workshops on synthesis, design or prototyping, makes electronic music or generally tries to get a better understanding of interactions between people and systems.