A group of young people from the Hazlitt Youth Theatre have been invited along to the Museum to help understand how the space affects their wellbeing and whether the Museum is a place they could use more often. They looked at exhibits, tried on costumes and got a real feel for the museum as somewhere they could visit and use for themselves.
Natalie Moor, Operations and Visitor Manager at Maidstone Museum said:
“I really want the Museum to be a place that young people can use and feel welcome in. Where they can come for quiet space, to do homework, to study and research and to have fun with dressing up and enjoying the exhibitions.”
“We are currently very good at reaching primary school children, families and older people. We hope this project will help us understand more about what a young adult might want from a museum and what would encourage them to make more use of it.”
“I’m looking at what makes a space feel safe for young people and am interested in what might stop young people seeing the Museum as a welcome space to visit.”
“Feedback from the young people was so positive, they particularly loved the Japanese Gallery and the Endangered and Extinct Exhibition. We have three more sessions planned with these young people where we will measure how they feel about their time in the Museum. We’ll also be asking the youth theatre to engage in some improvisations around feelings of trust and wellbeing both here at the Museum and also at the Hazlitt.”
Lee Bradley, aged 16 from the Hazlitt Youth Theatre was one of the young people who visited, Lee said:
“The Museum was a great experience and I really enjoyed myself. I really enjoyed looking at the models made of recycling. It was amazing to see what people can make with plastics and fabrics. I also really enjoyed having fun with the dressing up area! Being able to have fun and making a character to walk around the Museum with friends, as well as learning lots was brilliant!”
Another young man who visited from the Youth Theatre, Kieron Imms, aged 16 added:
“The Museum was such a fun and interesting experience for all of us and it was exciting to explore all the new exhibits introduced to the building.”
Maidstone Museum Foundation have funded the time of Jenny Longley, the Hazlitt Youth and Education Leader, who will be working with the Museum to complete this valuable work.
Savannah Ferguson and Ciara Cook