Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, firstly Kids in Museums volunteer Eleanor Dobson.
The day was extremely enjoyable and offered me an insight, in extraordinary detail, into the inner workings of a museum. I felt myself becoming increasingly aware of the importance of understanding the expressions that are part of an exhibition. With this I was able to develop the skills to both criticise and value various elements of the areas we explored.
The first exhibition, Reading the Rocks: the Remarkable Maps of William Smith
This was a wonderful start to give us a chance to act both as a first time audience and test our skills at critiquing. I truly appreciate the level to which we were listened to, and the extent to which our thoughts were valued. Furthermore, the environment and the format that we gave our feedback in – standing and discussing as a group –was a fantastic way for people to express their thoughts in a non-threatening or intimidating environment.
The second exhibition, Silent Explosion: Ivor Davies and Destruction in Art
Again this was also a brilliant way to test the skills we developed from the previous experience, and ensured that we could also develop further our thoughts. This was because it was a completely different style and format. The only suggestion that I could make to improve on this particular part of the day, is that I would suggest that the curators tell us which parts they feel needed improving, and reflected their own thoughts on the exhibition. This way we could have offered practical advice that would have conformed their personal aims. However sometimes I felt that our criticism and suggestions went off topic slightly. For example, if they could suggest which target audience they are aiming to impress. This is only because, as I am from Kid in Museums, although I didn’t feel the exhibits were child friendly, they were extremely impressive and interesting from an adult perspective. With this in mind, it would be good to know if this is what they were aiming for, and then we could criticise them effectively.
Overall the day was fabulous. It enhanced my knowledge and skills in critiquing museum exhibits. I was enlightened into the different elements of creating a museum. Alongside this I was made to feel that I was making a positive contribution to the National Museum. I would be delighted to be allowed to take-part again, and hopefully become more confident in expressing pragmatic feedback.