Saturday, 28 January 2017

Meet Me at the Museum - Around the World in Our Treasures

Over the past year I have been working with wonderful older people from across Oxfordshire, welcoming them in to the Pitt Rivers as part of the Meet Me at the Museum programme.

Meet Me at the Museum is an opportunity for older people and those living with Dementia to bring their curiosity and their continued thirst for learning to the Pitt Rivers. Every first Monday of the month we have been spending two hours together touring the galleries and handling objects that tell the story of the museum and bring to life the cultures behind the objects.

Photo of an African mask which was handled during the session
Object Handling, Meet Me at the Museum © CDAN 

Our first season of MMAM at the museum was in partnership with Creative Dementia and Arts Network (CDAN) Flourish funded artist, Charlie Henry. In collaboration with Charlie we shared our own special stories and objects, which culminated in Around the World in Our Treasures. This co-produced exhibition showcased our spoken memories and personal objects through a wonderful set of stop-animations that brought the objects to life.

Two people standing in front of a case which has the Treasures Exhibition inside it
Around the World in Our Treasures ©Pitt Rivers Museum

One of the most important aspects of this programme was that everyone in the group - carers, older people, people living with Dementia, volunteers and staff -  shared their object stories. This created an equality of purpose. Having had experience as a carer for someone living with Dementia, carers are not always actively engaged in the activities provided. Meet Me at the Museum is an opportunity to see the person you care for as having the ability to take part, contribute and to learn. Most importantly, it is also an opportunity to socialise with others living similar lives and to go away having learnt and contributed something yourself. MMAM has further highlighted to me the importance of ensuring that museums continue to develop opportunities for vulnerable older people to participate and make meaningful contributions to our museum activity. 

Two people looking into a museum case of objects
Touring the Museum  ©CDAN

This month we have widened the group further to include older people who would probably not think of themselves as vulnerable. This has changed the dynamic again – creating more active discussion and empowering some of our vulnerable members to participate with confidence.  We are currently looking at life stages and the rituals and ceremonies that we use to mark these. So far, we have covered birth, childhood to adulthood, and marriage, so we have heard lots of good stories!

If you are interested in finding out more about this group or in joining in then please contact me - Beth - on 01865 613004. Our sessions run every 1st Monday of the Month.

Beth McDougall
VERVE Activities Officer


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