So apparently there is a Museums and Wellbeing Week. This is quite exciting for me as my PhD has taken a wellbeing turn (see below) and now I find a week where museums are promoting wellbeing.
Museums & Wellbeing Week Information
Anyway, I have been working hard on my PhD to the point where I have put in to present at two conferences this year. One with a poster and one with a Pecha-Kucha. To do this I had to communicate my PhD topic in a more academic fashion than my blog post about is earlier this year. So I got my head around my literature review plan, and wrote this:
I am exploring how museums can better engage with audiences of diverse communities, such as the communities in Leicester. Drawing on the work of Chatterjee & Noble (2013), I will be looking at how local museums can better support local communities by creating a sense of belonging. This will include building on the museums inclusivity in relation to identity and race (Crang & Tolia-Kelly, 2010).
Initially I will be looking into the experiences of family groups from the local Leicester area in the local authority museums focusing on their emotional and sensory experiences (Roberts, 2013; Munro, 2014) to better understand the senses of well-being and belonging in the museum. I hope that this will be a basis on which museums can better represent their local communities and contribute to wellbeing and create an inclusive museum.
This is what I have submitted to see if anyone wants to hear about my research, and it has been successful. The poster submission deadline passed and today I found out that I shall be presenting my poster at the Museums in the Global Contemporary Conference in Leicester in April. The other deadline is the beginning of March so I have a little wait for that one.
Chatterjee, H. and Noble, G. (2013) Museums, health and well-being Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate
Crang, M. and Tolia-Kelly, D.P. (2010) Nation, race and affect: senses and sensibilities at National Heritage sites Environment and planning A., 42 (10) 2315
Munro, E. (2014) Doing emotion work in museums: reconceptualising the role of community engagement practitioners Museums and Society March 2014 12(1) 44-60
Roberts, R.C., (2013) Questions of museum essence: Being, Being With, and finding connection in conversation Museums and Social Issues 8:1&2 pp. 89-101
I thought I might be all blogged out after my marathon blogging sessions during the NCCPE conference, yet I find myself sat on a train home thinking about the value of conferences.
I have mentioned it a couple of times already but following the advice of Dr Eureka Henkel, wear what is comfortable. No one judges you by what you wear at a conference (as long as you aren’t incredibly scruffy).
So I am feeling inspired by the NCCPE conference, in many ways, but one of the key things that struck me is that I didn’t feel like I wanted a nap after lunch! (Apologies to other conferences I have attended by saying this, please follow my point.). Each session was not a lecture from someone just explaining their research at me. Now this is a side effect of it being a public engagement conference but really we should all be learning from this anyway. The only time I just sat and listened was in the plenary sessions and even then there was some form of audience interaction. The rest of the conference comprised of workshops, storytelling and seminars. The poster session was accompanied by a series of “entertaining” demonstrations of research engagement projects including a science ceilidh and crawling through the dark to explore you ideas. Now these sessions were accompanied by some Buck’s Fizz and nibbles which may have helped people relax into having a good time. The fact that everyone there was involved in public engagement in some way and that kind of person has a “get up and give it a try” attitude also helps.
I have come away with a wealth of ideas and useful information. Now I need to pass some of that on.
Earlier in the year I decided to take on a “why not” attitude. This has lead to me putting forward my ideas and research to a couple of conferences, including this one. I aimed high, having just been to the conference I had been placed correctly, and I presented a poster. But if I hadn’t aimed high I might not have been selected for anything at all. At a previous conference where I presented a poster I wasn’t sure of the value of what I was doing. People read the poster, they commented and we discussed and that was it. I can only hope they took away something of my ideas and research and maybe thought about them a little further. This time the discussions were more in depth, there was conversation on putting my findings into practice and could I speak to others about it at another time. It could be a that I found my audience for my research here. Saying that my two examples are the Visitor Studies Group, and NCCPE. It shouldn’t be a million miles different in my opninon.
As well as my personal achievements, the sessions I attended were incredibly useful. There were a lot of sessions to choose from but I think I managed to find ones that I related to well. If you read my previous posts from the conference I think you can get the impression of how much I took away. At previous conferences I have also felt inspired, but not quite to this extent, or at least to not quite this extent with this much understanding. I would like to think that I have gone into some of the museum studies conferences with the knowledge and understanding that I have going into this one with, and it is just a case of confidence.
My point in all this is go to conferences, try and take part, don’t just go and be a passive audience member. There are a lot of people across the country who are interested in what you are doing. They have the same passion about their field of research or subject as you do and are waiting to tell you about it. If you go ready to listen as well as tell, you will have a wonderful time. You should also make a few friends on the way,
I started a post in the middle of May about how things had become increasingly hectic, I got two sentences in and then possibly got distracted by something else! Since April 8th I have been the University of Leicester’s Richard III Outreach Officer and it has been a massive learning curve and amazing experience so far. That isn’t what I want to write about though!
I have read Henry VII: The Winter King by Thomas Penn in the past. I enjoyed the book and the fact that there were references and evidence for the facts that were being explained. Correct or not, there was proof or at least the evidence behind suppositions. I was comfortable with the details I was reading. It was in black and white and explained clearly.
The other day I watched the tv programme in the BBC’s Tudor History season that was presented by the author himself and covered may of the facts about Henry VII from the book. However, some of them were wrong. I didn’t remember them from the book and I then found myself doubting many of the facts being delivered during the show.
So, after having a think about why I was doubting I realised it was the medium of instruction. I am more willing to believe something that is written down that I can see the references and evidence than a tv show. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It does make me doubt the news and other documentaries. What hasn’t helped with that situation was being told by one of the University’s academics that one of the documentaries I watched and was quite happy to accept the facts from wasn’t incredibly accurate and the academic who was presenting wasn’t well regarded in their field. I am not sure if this was bitterness at seeing someone in the same field on tv or if it was entirely true. The problem is, without my researching the whole subject myself, even I don’t know who is right and wrong in these cases! So I think I will stick to books and articles for my literature review and research, mainly because I can compare and criticise based on my own knowledge and reasoned research.
This nearly turned into a post about validity and reliability in research findings, but that may come later. So far I have completed a number of interviews for my dissertation, I have a few more in the pipeline and have data on three museums out of five or six so I am almost there on the data front. I have a lot of reading completed as well, but seem to be getting stuck into a topic and then finding more exciting information on it for more reading and I am not getting much writing done. I am hoping this will all come out in the wash as 5,500 words out of 30,000 isn’t very many at the moment!
I might even blog about my job soon too, well, the bits I can blog about now. The rest will have to wait!
After Christmas and a slow start to January, I think I am getting back into a routine with my dissertation. I have made myself try and review a journal article every weekday. On top if this I have been busy organising my museums. I think I have cracked it now! I decided I needed to actually go and speak with some people to help me get on with it, so I took a day trip to Oxford. This was the best idea ever!
Meeting my contacts at the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers, not only helped me plan the logistics of the study, but also helped me to articulate the project and my goals. It gave me the opportunity to explain in person what I wanted to do, how I thought I was going to do it and that I wasn’t entirely sure of the exact outcomes yet, but that was part of the design. The feedback and discussion provided an opportunity to highlight some of the gaps in my plans and create a constructive platform to fix them. I found that discussing the project gave me more confidence in it. My main worry is now that the photos actually come out!
The trip to Oxford also gave me a fun day out. I spent about two hours in the Pitt Rivers Museum and four in the Ashmolean. As it was a Thursday and not a holiday, I had some of the Ashmolean galleries to myself. I went on a tour and had a chat with the museum assistants too. After a tough day (very tough on the feet anyway) I met a friend in the Bird and Baby and had a filling dinner. I am looking forward to going back for a few days and getting the interviews done.
Since I completed what could be termed as a site visit, I have had a surge in enthusiasm, ideas and focus. I now have an excellent selection of fee charging and free museums, run by local authorities, independently or nationally, and my first
test subjects visitors are taking photos on Saturday. I have even got a rough plan of the structure of my dissertation. However, I am now not sure that 30,000 words is going to be enough…
After October being a hectic month, November has been a little less frantic. It has been mostly waiting for results and news. During the waiting I was lucky enough to go to a lecture by Bettany Hughes on Helen of Troy.
After having watched quite a lot of her television programmes, I have to admit that I wasn’t enamoured with her presenting style on tv. However, in person, she is engaging and lively. There is an element of Horrible Histories to her style which, not only provides interesting facts, it also makes it all the more memorable.
All the news came at the same time in the end, I went to a teaching event for my MRes and was sent all the results and approvals required to get on with things. My essay result wasn’t disappointing either. I knew I wasn’t going to get another distinction this time. I struggled to engage with the subject matter (quantitative methods are not as exciting as qualitative ones) but did manage to produce a piece of work of merit standard. Reading around the subject always helps, I tried to look at it from the most interesting viewpoint possible. I also got news that my dissertation proposal had been approved.
I had a meeting with my supervisor today and now have somewhere to get started. We talked about the scope of my research and it has now grown. I initially anticipated focusing on one museum, but now I am looking at a national, local authority and privately run museums. My first challenge is to find a national museum and privately run museum who will allow me to give family groups cameras during their visit. Then I need to think about logistics of carrying this out, but I think I might be able to manage it. I do have a year to do this. These are relatively minor issues compared to the seemingly mammoth task of the literature review.
The literature review was a common theme at the teaching event. It seems to be the thing that people panic about. We discussed how you write it and by the end of your research you have to re-write it. During my meeting today, we talked about approach and that detailed notes and plans will be enough until it is time to write it up. This is going to reduce the amount of re-writing later, but I think it could be more work in the meantime. I need to know everything about my subject matter. I am looking forward to this!
I now have a plan again, and a rough schedule. Time to get back to the studying!