Stories of the World in Birmingham

Stories of the World is a UK-wide initiative to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics, harnessing the excitement and world-attention of the Olympics and linking this to objects from around the world, in museums and galleries across the UK.

Stories of the World has a UK based group which meets to talk about what has been happening with the project. The Stories of the World project invites young people to use cultural items to create an exhibition which will hopefully create a rise in young people coming to museums and experiencing this culture for themselves.

Shannon Kiddell and I went to Birmingham for the meeting and spent two days there discussing various topics such as:

  • The roles and the responsibilities of the steering group.
  •  The group’s future.
  •  Making a manifesto of what we want to do as a group and discussing what we like about museums and what we would like to see happen in museums.
  •  A day in Parliament next year to show people who we are and what we are doing.
  •  What we would like to see in our 2012 exhibitions.

    Shannon and Charlotte Kiddell, Youth Ambassadors for Stories of the World
    Shannon and Charlotte Kiddell, Young Ambassadors for Stories of the World.

The roles and responsibilities were similar to a job description for people who wanted to be a part of the steering group. We felt that they needed to be serious about the project and to be hard working. The manifesto discussion was based on working out what we promise to do and achieve by 2012. This involves a five-part plan which we feel that museums should uphold and includes:

  • Power and participation for young people: this involves allowing young people to have  a say and make a difference within their local museum, by using work experience  or a one off exhibition day.
  • Museums beyond their collections: this involves creating a place that is enjoyable for everyone as a social and creative space.
  • Museums and the community: this involves bringing the museums to those who don’t have the means to get there and involving the community in their plans.
  • Museums and relevance to present culture: making the museums culturally relevant to everyone, meaning they will make them fun and exciting and keep updating them and making them fresh.
  • Accessibility for all: finally, creating a means for museums to be accessible for everyone, allowing the community to have a say on what goes on in the museum and making it plain and simple to understand.

The day in Parliament means going to Westminster Abbey to shout about our achievements and make sure that people know what we have done. This will take place in 2012 and will involve a variety of media such as performances and poetry and a live debate discussing what we feel should be done culturally within museums.

Finally we discussed what we would like to see in the end project, our exhibitions. We want basic simple things which we feel would draw the public in more than usual. A few examples of these are:

  • Tours done by young people.
  • Noisy, music filled galleries.
  • Colourful labels.
  • Highlight standards of local collections and contemporary technology.

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