ITP 2013: Project Weekend
London is famously a city that can offer up a different museum for each day of the year and so, during the bank holiday weekend, the ITP participants visited seven of the other fantastic museums across the city. Based on their immediate experiences during their visit, and their own experience as museum and heritage professionals, each group was then asked to analyse their respective museums with respect to such issues as online presence, visitor experience, audiences and collections management and finally make suggestions on any changes they might make with varying budgets. Their findings were then compiled into presentations, which were presented to and discussed amongst the rest of participants.
Here is a brief overview of the institutions visited and what our participants had to say about them:
National Maritime Museum:
- Overall: Large and varied collection and excellent opportunities for visitor interaction
- Highlight: Interactive world map!
- Suggestion: Better map with more precise object locations
Museum of London:
- Overall: An exciting and fun museum, with opportunities for engagement at all ages.
- Highlight: Hands-on workshops, chronological, yet very varied gallery trail.
- Suggestion: A large model of the city would create and excellent focal point in the atrium and allow visitors to pinpoint the locations mentioned in the galleries. A place to visit for all ITP participants on next year’s programme.
V&A Museum of Childhood:
- Overall: Interesting concept, but very Western-centric and aimed predominantly at families.
- Highlight: Clockwork toy galleries and (v. controversial) “War games” Exhibition.
- Suggestion: Re-think “War Games” exhibition – light and casual tone of the labels does not match the serious content of the exhibition. And re-position the shop and Information Desk.
Leighton House Museum:
- Overall: Beautiful house and architecture, though almost no labels and hence only really suitable for specialist interest
- Highlight: Interior décor &design, and enlightening conversation with the staff.
- Suggestion: More labels, offer audio-guide on entry, more curatorial staff.
Sir John Soane’s Museum:
- Overall: Very interesting insight into 19th century antiquarian collecting habits – excellent collection of Graeco-Roman objects.
- Highlight: The house itself – designed by Sir John especially for his collection.
- Suggestion: More information on Sir John himself, maybe move at least a few objects into storage to allow more space per visitor.
William Morris Gallery:
- Overall: Interesting to those already acquainted with his work or Art Nouveau in general, very pleasant smaller museum.
- Highlight: Listening to William Morris’ poetry read aloud through headphones, lovely garden.
- Suggestion: Reposition shop and re-organise some of the labels that are either too small or inaccessible.
- Overall: Fantastic building and a hugely comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary art, excellent visitor facilities.
- Highlight: The Warhols and the Tate restaurant with a view of the London skyline.
- Suggestion: Better ways of finding particular pieces, and maybe a shop on one of the upper levels.
Thanks to all the participants for their excellent work and great presentations!