Learning to Live: Museums, Young People and Education 13 May 2009

The Apollo Command Module, Captain Scott’s diary and Guy Fawkes’s lantern are among more than sixty artefacts and artworks nominated by children and young people from across the country as their favourite museum or gallery exhibits.

To mark the launch of a major new book on the educational role of museums, the UK’s national museums and galleries asked 11 to 18 year olds to nominate two of their favourite exhibits. The publication,Learning to Live: Museums, Young People and Education, brings together a collection of essays addressing key questions about the role of museums in young peoples’ wellbeing and learning.

Download a PDF version of the publication here.

The book, commissioned by the National Museum Directors’ Conference in conjunction with the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), includes contributions from leading figures from the worlds of culture and education including: Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, Baroness Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education and Professor Mick Waters, President of the Curriculum Foundation and former Director of Curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. 

Learning to Live: Museums, Young People and Education will be launched at an event the National Portrait Gallery in London on Wednesday 13th May 2009. Some of the shortlisted items will be on display at the event.

To ensure museums and galleries can realise their potential and make a difference in children and young peoples’ lives, the book recommends:

  • Giving children and young people equal status with adults within museums, including them in decision making and display development
  • Develop a Charter of Cultural Rights for Children
  • Make learning a core priority for museum leadership
  • Create a shared DCMS and DCSF ministerial position to provide joint leadership on cultural learning
  • Museums to help shape the curriculum through involvement with the QCA
  • The establishment of a link between schools and museums, at the local level, through Children’s Services departments
  • For museums, with the support of government, to reach out to all young people, including those hardest to reach

Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, said:“The past ten years has seen a revolution in museum education. Museums have placed learning at the core of their service to the public and have developed extensive programmes, establishing their role as vital centres of knowledge. We need to ensure that museums and galleries remain at the heart of children’s and young people’s education and continue to innovate while reaching out to everyone in their communities.”

Carey Oppenheim, ippr Co-Director, said: “If museums are to put children and young people on an equal footing with adults this will require a radical overhaul in how they allocate their funds, how they use their space and how they involve young people in their decision making.

“This is a real opportunity enable all children to benefit from the informal learning opportunities, inspiration and creative skills that museums can uniquely offer. To achieve this will require strong leadership and partnership from both the museum and educational worlds.”

Read the full press release here.