Young Demonstrators – the story so far…

With Niall Reeder and Rachel Nicholson

You may have heard of us, the Young Demonstrators, when we were introduced on the blog in October. Since then we have been busy meeting, researching, planning and running events. The one thing we haven’t done is written a blog post to let you know all about it! So here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.

The aim of our group is to help other young people to explore the museum and its amazing collections, through tours, activities and events. We spent some time researching and found out about Takeover Day, which encourages children and young people to get more involved in museums. This seemed like a perfect opportunity for us to try out some of our ideas so we set this as our first Young Demonstrator goal and chose the 20 November 2015 as the date of our Takeover.

The Takeover Day Team
The Takeover Day Team.

Rachel, one of our team, can tell you more…

“We started planning Takeover Day from September during our fortnightly meetings, with a few longer Sunday meetings in the run up to Takeover Day. In these meetings we decided as a group what sort of activities we wanted to do, but we also got to be creative and have fun. Not to forget our supplies of tea, biscuits and Pringles that were key to each meeting!

“We started with a brainstorm of the type of activities we wanted to do, then went from there. We didn’t have time to use all of our good ideas for Takeover Day but hopefully we can use them in the future. In the end, we decided on having three main activities (a photo booth, object handling and tours) which we got busy planning and preparing for in teams.

“On the day, equipped with my new Young Demonstrators hoodie and museum name badge (feeling very official!), I was helping out at the photo booth, where we gave people the chance to dress up. We got to be creative and make our own props for it but we also borrowed costumes from the museum’s collection, which included a wide variety of hats, weapons, cloaks, and skirts.

Young demonstrators
“We had a great time picking what objects to include by trying on outfits and of course taking a lot of selfies!” – Rachel

“I really enjoyed the photo booth as it was something fun and different to what visitors would experience at the museum normally. It also allowed us to interact with people from all age groups and nationalities, which was a great experience.

Visitors of all ages enjoyed dressing up in our photo booth!
Visitors of all ages enjoyed dressing up in our photo booth!

“Although we all had our own activities to run we still helped and supported each other at the other stations. Although I had been on all the tours before Takeover Day I still went along to one on the day and I was really impressed. They were very interesting and informative, covering topics I didn’t know too much about. I applaud my fellow Young Demonstrators who did the tours as I was not brave enough to do one on my own (that is the next goal though!). They also had a handling trolley with objects related to the themes of the tours, which was a great way to learn more about the different topics chosen.”

Alan and our tour timetable for Takeover Day
Alan and our tour timetable for Takeover Day.

Niall researched the Jacobites for his Takeover Day tour. As well as being a Young Demonstrator he is also a trainee at the museum and practised his tour on his colleagues in the HR team!

“The preparation for my tour was time-consuming as the Jacobites and their uprisings are vastly complex subjects and hard to put into context in a 15 minute tour. For a start, it is a topic with many myths. Doing the tour provided me with an opportunity to bust some of these myths as it is important to tell the truth about history. I was quite nervous at first but built up confidence as I took the tour several times throughout the day. I felt that the tour team worked well together, pitching in to drum up support for each other’s tours and setting up each other’s objects.”

Niall showing some visitors our Jacobite handling objects.
Niall showing some visitors our Jacobite handling objects.

Rachel sums up her experience of Takeover Day…

“Overall, I think it was a success. The museum was not as busy as we hoped, and there weren’t a lot of young people, who are our intended age group, but we still got a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the visitors. We can take many positives away from the day and we learned lessons which can help us for future events. I joined the Young Demonstrators team as I love that the National Museum is a unique place that brings so many areas of interest into one building. It is the ideal place to get more young people interested in museums as it has something for everyone! I wanted to share my enthusiasm for the past and the museum while showing young people that museums aren’t these boring places that they think they are! I am looking forward to what is next for the Young Demonstrators team and hopefully moving even closer towards our goal!”

Our friendly Young Demonstrator team!
Our friendly Young Demonstrator team!

So what is next for the Young Demonstrators? At the moment we are planning a recruitment event to help us grow our team. We will be hosting a drop-in stall in the museum on Saturday 27 February from 1-4pm to show what we do and do encourage other young people to get involved. To find out more about this event contact or call 0131 247 4004. You can find out more about the Young Demonstrators here.

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