University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

An INSIGHT into museum treasures

This Spring 60 Year 10 students from London visited the Fitzwilliam Museum as part of the University’s INSIGHT programme. INSIGHT is an academic programme delivered through the University’s Widening Participation Programme. INSIGHT aims to develop secondary students’ subject interests, and tackle the barriers many students face when applying to university.

INSIGHT works with maintained sector schools across London in areas such as Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Haringey. By working with the INSIGHT students from Years 9 – 11, the University can offer an assortment of skills-based events and cultural opportunities, including a four night residential stay at the University during the summer period and also a number of open day workshops throughout the year.

The University Museums have become an integral part of the INSIGHT Programme with students visiting the collections regularly. This frequent engagement can also be seen in other strands of the University’s Widening Participation Programme such as Realise, a programme which actively promotes higher education to young people in care, and also the Colleges’ area links scheme where the museums collectively welcome over 5,000 students a year. We feel our collections add great value to the University’s outreach initiatives, offering an engaging and creative learning environment whilst stimulating interest in higher education subjects. We look forward to sharing more of our collaborative work over the coming year.

With the Fitzwilliam Museum celebrating its bi-centenary year, we felt it was important for us to celebrate the positive impact our collection has on these young people. As regular visitors to the museum we wanted to capture the opinions of our INSIGHT audience. What do they really like about our museum?

As a teaching collection, the Museum’s objects always provoke much thought and discussion. We wanted to hear what our young people from INSIGHT had to say about our collections – so we gave the students the task to choose one object which they felt held great cultural value and national importance. This task called on their research, debating and presentation skills which was then judged by the Museum’s Head of Communications and Engagement, Rachel Sinfield.

“The Fitzwilliam Museum offers such brilliant breadth and depth to study. It allows our students to explore new academic subjects and ideas that are rarely discussed in schools and helps them to think in entirely new ways. This project gave our students free reign to investigate and discuss something that interested them. It was fantastic to see our students engage with objects that varied from ancient artefacts through to pottery, weaponry and modern sculpture. That choice gave them the enthusiasm and confidence to present their ideas with a confidence that impressed me. In answer to the questions “What do they like about our museum?” I’d say a lot!” 
Stephanie Baughen, Widening Participation Project Coordinator (Pre 16), University of Cambridge

And here is our winner:

“The recording showed thought and planning and began by placing Cyprus in its geographical context. They then read out the details on the label in a pacy way, setting out the facts, before going into their interpretation of the object.  They talked about the object with its original use and context, and compared it to today – even Adele got a mention!  They also talked about who would use it, and made that relevant to both genders.  It held my interest for the duration of the recording.”
Rachel Sinfield, Head of Communications and Public Engagement, Fitzwilliam Museum

Lucy Sercombe, Learning Associate (Arts Award & Widening Participation), Fitzwilliam Museum

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This entry was posted on April 1, 2016 by in Education, Goal 5, Leadership: CYP, News, Society and tagged , .
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