This Autumn we have been working with researcher Abigail Hackett from Manchester Metropolitan University to explore how families with young children aged 5 and under use and experience the museum. We hope that this will help us to identify the strengths of our museum for young families and to understand how we can cater for them even better in the future.
We arranged for a group of local families to come to the museum for a visit once a week for four weeks. We worked in partnership with NLC Adult Community Learning to recruit families. Sarah Johnson, Family Learning Development Assistant attended visits and assisted in their smooth delivery. We were also very grateful for the support from Rae Twidale at Westcliff Drop- in who helped to recruit families and provided free transport.
Over the course of the four visits Abigail observed what the families did at the museum. She looked at which objects or displays grabbed the children’s attention, what they said and did and how they behaved in the different museum spaces.
Most of the families who took part had not visited North Lincs Museum before and it was wonderful to see how their confidence and sense of fun as they explored grew week after week.
On the last visit Abigail made a list of over 40 ‘things we enjoyed doing at North Lincs Museum’ that she had observed the families enjoying over the visits. Interestingly the list included lots of physical things like ‘making the automatic doors open onto the courtyard’ or ‘tapping and banging windows and surfaces’ as well as more obvious things like ‘looking at the skeleton’ or ‘touching the fossil rock’. We were keen to celebrate these aspects of physically exploring and being in the museum spaces just as much as those that related more directly to the objects or displays. These are an important part of young children ‘s exploring and becoming confortable in a new space.
Our partner museum services in Hull and East Riding are also carrying out similar research visits at their venues and a compiled report showing all the findings will be written when all the visits are complete.
We are really looking forward to seeing the results of this research and how it can help us to make North Lincs Museum an even better place for families to visit.
Rosalind Brian, Learning Officer Under 5s