Making Museums Matter
Published: 27 Jun 2016
Museums in the UK should learn from practices overseas to ensure they attract a diverse range of visitors that are truly representative of the communities they are in, according to Korantema Anyimadu, who spent five weeks in the USA, Holland and Germany to find out how museums in these countries are breaking down stereotypes.
The average museum visitor in the UK is female, between 45 and 74 years old, comes from an upper socio-economic background, and is more likely to be Caucasian than Black, Asian or any other ethnic minority. Korantema argues that museums, as public institutions, should do more to encourage visitors from all walks of life.
Korantema is a 25 year old Freelancer from east London. Her travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship award.
During her travels, Korantema spoke to museum professionals and members of the public, and found that museums abroad are experimenting with different ways to tap into potential audiences.
A refugee inclusion project at Berlin’s Natural History Museum supports refugee children and their parents to integrate with German nature and culture. Activities such as canoeing trips in nearby nature reserves, participant show-and-tells at the museum and free museum membership, proved to be an effective way of reducing isolation and opening up the museum as a social space.
At the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), every Friday night surrounding roads are shut, food trucks line the streets and the museum is transformed into a mini neighbourhood festival, with craft stalls, live music and workshops. 15% of Oakland residents did not know the OMCA existed a few years ago, but now the Friday night events welcome thousands of visitors each week.
“Encouraging the atypical museum visitor to take the first step through their doors is essential to ensuring museums are still around in the future. As one museum professional insisted: ‘There’s no reason to have a public collection without a public to enjoy it’ ”-Korantema Anyimadu
Since returning to the UK, Korantema has been putting her recommendations into practice as a Museum Freelancer and Young Producer at the London Transport Museum and the National Gallery. She plans to use the Fellowship to inform her ongoing studies as a Masters student in Cultural Heritage Studies at UCL, and is currently in the process of setting up a youth collective with other Freelancers with the aim of creating inclusive heritage museum projects.
Read Korantema’s report here
Notes to editors
Korantema’s blog: www.intheshapeofaneagle.com