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Rethinking the use of collections for social inclusion

The role of museums is changing rapidly. Nowadays, museums are not just knowledge and educational institutions, but are also taking on social, economic, cultural and environmental responsibilities. This is part of a movement away from the classical elitist museum towards socially inclusive and democratic cultural institutions that seek to be relevant for more different kinds of people.

Science and technology collections have historically often reflected triumph and progress and allowing collections to keep up with rapid change and the growing need for social inclusion is not easy. What is the role of collections in contemporary science, technology and natural history museum practice? How do we develop new approaches in order to engage more kinds of citizens in our subject and our institutions?


Head of Exhibitions and Learning
Museum of Technology

Session speakers

Museum curator
The talk will address how we can be develop museum practice in science museums, which are more inclusive in terms of making museums democratic institutions, which are relevant for all people of the society. That means developing exhibitions based on contemporary issues and humans and seeing the exhibition as a process instead of as a product. That’s dynamic transformative exhibitions raising questions instead of giving answers and making room for dialogue and discussions. I'm unfolding the role of the collections in these new processes.
Head of Curatorship and Curator of Making
Derby Museums
United Kingdom
This talk will explore how Derby Museums are transforming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site of the world's first factory, into the Museum of Making using a human-centred design philosophy. It will unpick how co-production is being used to engage citizens and industry stakeholders with collections, storytelling and making. It will illustrate how the museum is re-positioning itself as an active hub of civic importance, providing a link between people, place, education, making and industry in our city. Derby Museums makes museums for the head, heart and hands - inspired by the makers of the past, made by the makers of today, empowering the makers of the future; this talk will show you how we're doing this.
Riina Linna
Museum of Technology
This talk will investigate the relationship of a collections policy and inclusiveness. It will showcase ways how the Finnish Museum of Technology has seeked out to develop collections-based methods for engaging with different audiences. Objects are the starting point for everything we do from exhibitions to learning programs and events, but engaging people and communities needs meaningful and relevant collections which also speak out to a wider audience. I will discuss ways how we have tried to tackle this challenge in exhibitions and services as well as finding ways of working with different audiences in collecting and making meaning to our existing collections.
Image of Marianne
Associate professor
Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen
I will draw on recent research on objects and meaning-making to frame the perspectives offered by the speakers. This framing will 'translate' the various perspectives, drawn across different institutions, into operational guidelines for the following group work.
Science Engagement Manager
Following the “Blue Planet II” documentary aired in early 2018, plastic and the environment has become a hot topic in the UK. At National Museums Scotland a plastics handling collection has been developed for schools and families. Through informal discussions using objects from the museums’ Science & Technology and Natural Sciences collections visitors can explore plastic from multiple viewpoints. How can objects generate discussion around contemporary, and potentially emotional, topics?