We had a fantastic response to our 7th February networking event on Museums Change Lives with almost 50 people attending the afternoon. Students for the networking event came not just from the University of Manchester but from Nottingham, Leicester and Huddersfield.

The Coal Room at the People’s History Museum was buzzing with the lively conversations and the energy of the professionals and the students. There was a common understanding and a committment that the only way forward is to  use  museums and culture to connect with communities and to raise awareness on important issues of either local or national significance and that this commitment is not always a matter of huge resources and funding for specific programmes. It is often about the attitude!

The mix of students with museums and heritage professionals was particularly invigorating for the Museums Change Lives workshop. It was fantastic to hear how much we have shifted our perceptions  from  the traditional approach to museum collections and programmes to thinking of who do we may want to engage with and the issues we may want to raise. The students provided some particularly interesting examples of different types of work, from archival research into the history of the mines, to public interepretation of science at MOSI and the humanisation of science and how in different ways we all strive to connect with new audiences and sparkle the imagination of generations to come.

Maurice Davies described the workshop as the best and most successful he ever run and this is all due to everyone’s enthusiasm and participation of all of you from the North. There is also something to be said about the NWFED being the right network where you can actually move away from the official approach of your organisation and express your own ideas and discuss challenges to your work.

Above all the event was a great opportunity to demonstrate what can actually be achieved when there is a will to collaborate and make things happen. Working with the MA and Elizabeth Driver from the University of Manchester gave us the opportunity to broaden the conversation and reach out for the young aspiring museums and art professionals.  We were able in the last part of the afternoon to discuss the students’ future aspirations and to suggest simple practical ways in which they can promote themselves at interviews and relevant work applications.

We look forward to working with the students and the MA in planning future events. If you have ideas and suggestions for events please email us at info@nwfed.org.uk