Museums – Audience Development

Clare Taylor from Bus and Bird Arts was the appointed Artist/Project Manager for Mansfield Museum’s Market Town Network Project funded by Museum Development East Midlands.

The Market Town Network Project “This is Me, This is Mansfield” was an intergenerational arts project that promoted Mansfield Museum as a destination for local residents. Co-production was central to the project as people are a key part of both market towns and museums. In short, people make places! The project resulted in the creation of multiple ‘Mini-Me’ figures (three-dimensional selfies) displayed in ‘cabinets of curiosity’ that made reference to Mansfield Museum’s first inception as a ‘Tin Tabernacle’.

The three-dimensional figures represented the people of Mansfield, fostered a sense of pride in the locality and encouraged interaction with the museum. The approach of working across generations was a useful method of breaking down barriers. Otherwise reluctant adults (and teenage siblings or cousins) were encouraged to participate or visit the museum by younger family members who were more at ease with trying out new activities and still have a strong sense of curiosity. Fun launch events such as ‘The Generation Game: Mud Heads’ created excitement about the project and raised the profile of Mansfield Museum. The final exhibition kept the local community’s interest alive, especially among the participants who looked forward to seeing their work on display.

The finale event was a family friendly rave with Big Fish Little Fish at Create Theatre. This was outreach work with a difference and was a celebratory end to the project. Clare Taylor (Bus and Bird Arts) and Mark Ricketts (Big Fish Little Fish) even bagged a slot on Notts TV to publicise the event. One happy parent tweeted “It was a brilliant event Clare, the children really enjoyed it (and so did we!)”.

Click here for the MDEM Market Town Museums Case Study (pdf)