Elee Kirk

Children, Nature, Museums

Children Archive

Tuesday

20

March 2018

2

COMMENTS

Snapshots of Museum Experience

Written by , Posted in Book, Children, Photography

Elee had planned to turn her thesis into a book. She got as far as sketching an outline for the final book before she became too ill to continue. Since Elee’s death, I have been working on refashioning and reworking the thesis, and I’m delighted to now be able to announce that Elee’s Snapshots of Museum Experience: Understanding Child Visitors Through Photography is due out from Routledge in 2018. The book combines museum studies and early childhood studies, mapping the experience of child visitors to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History through their photography and through interviews. The whole thing is set against a background of a broadly Deweyan approach to education and to experience.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Photo Elee Kirk.

I took up the task of reworking the book according to a plan that Elee and I together agreed one afternoon in the May of 2016 in our favourite coffee shop, just a few weeks before her death. Elee had always hoped that the book might be a way of disseminating her research to museum educators and to other scholars. The hardback edition—due out some time around August—will be rather pricey, but hopefully there will be paperback and ebook editions as well that cut the cost significantly.

I may continue to post about Elee’s work on Through the Museoscope occasionally, so do stay posted. And do by all means get in touch if you want to know more about any of her work, or just want to say hello.

Will Buckingham

Monday

8

June 2015

0

COMMENTS

Notice Visitors, Create Joyful Gallery

Written by , Posted in Children, Exhibitions, Natural history, Visitors

A while back, I discovered that Derby Museum and Art Gallery was about to open a new natural history gallery. This was exciting to me for three reasons: firstly, because I ‘collect’ natural history galleries by visiting as many as I can; secondly, because Derby is very easy for me to get to; and thirdly, because the new gallery had the incredible name of ‘Notice Nature Feel Joy’. This I had to see.

Notice Nature Feel Joy gallery

Notice Nature Feel Joy gallery

Last week, with my sister, Alice, in tow, I managed to get to the new gallery. It’s a lovely space: calm, bright and clutter-free, and full of natural materials (including, of course, the natural history collections). Alice said that it made her feel like she was in a forest.

We were also lucky enough to speak to Andrea Hadley-Johnson, who led the project to put the gallery together. When I asked where the concept came from, she explained that from the outset, the museum didn’t have a particular plan, or even a name for the gallery. All of this came from work carried out with visitors and volunteers to find out what they wanted from such a gallery, what objects they wanted to see, and what nature meant to them. (more…)

Saturday

16

May 2015

0

COMMENTS

Talking about museum learning

Written by , Posted in Children, Interview, Research

This is a super-quick post, just to say that you can hear me talking about my research on the Boundary Objects podcast, with Dr Amy Jane Barnes and Dr Ceri Jones. Amy and Ceri are good friends of mine, who also studied and now work at the wonderful School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. In this podcast, we discuss my PhD research with young children in a natural history museum, and Ceri’s PhD research about teenagers and Medieval living history. We also think more broadly about the challenges of carrying out research with schools in museums. And we get a bit carried away reminiscing about the 90’s TV show Maid Marian and her Merry Men.

You can find the podcast, and a few useful links, here. It’s fairly long (nearly 40 mins), so I reckon this is a good one to listen to on a long commute, or whilst you’re doing the ironing.

Boundary Objects is a group for early career researchers working with museums and collections. Get in touch with them through their website if you’re interested in joining.

Sunday

26

April 2015

0

COMMENTS

Finding the Familiar in the Unfamiliar, Or, Reece in Space

Written by , Posted in Children, Exhibitions, Meaning, Photography

Boy wearing an astronaut suit

Reece at the National Space Centre

Last weekend I visited Leicester’s National Space Centre with my seven year old nephew, Reece. As a researcher, I have an annoying tendency of carrying out experiments on my poor nephews. I decided a little while ago that I’d like to start visiting museums with families that I know, and, just as I did during my doctoral research, giving the children cameras to record their visits. The main difference from my PhD research would be that this time I would actually get to join in with the visit. So this was my first attempt at this new project. It was also Reece’s first visit to the Space Centre.

In spite of being related to me, Reece’s family don’t visit many museums, preferring more energetic and outdoor activities. Over the past few years I’ve taken my nephews to an animatronic dinosaur exhibition, to Thinktank, the Birmingham Science Museum, and to the Transport Museum in Coventry. Reece also told me that they’ve been to the Sea Life Centre. This is probably more museum visiting than many children manage, but still not enough to make these comfortable and familiar places to be. It also became clear that Reece doesn’t have a strong personal interest in space as a topic, so the actual theme of this centre didn’t give him any hooks upon which to hang his understanding of where he was and what was supposed to happen there. What all of this meant that the really interesting thing about our visit to the Space Centre was the number of ways in which Reece connected this unfamiliar, over-stimulating, and confusing place to things that were familiar and comprehensible to him. (more…)