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There's no Place Like Home

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Participants taking part in labelling for the Cala Sona project

Why is this case study relevant?

The project demonstrate how museums are providing opportunities for communities to engage with museums collections while promoting learning and widening access through outreach work and partnership working.

What were the aims of the project?

The project aim to enable Cala Sona tenants to engage positively with their local community through museums and, in doing so, to create a touring exhibition documenting the post-war history of Cala Sona and its place within Lanarkshire’s heritage.

What happened?

‘There is no place like home’ was a curatorial-based partnership programme led by Museum Resources for Social Integration, involving seven tenants (age range 45 to 65 and over) from Cala Sona Court, a sheltered Housing complex run by Margaret Blackwood Housing Association. Cala Sona was originally founded as a haven for Eastern European refugees who, due to having disease or disability, were left behind in German prison camps long after liberation by Allied Forces.

The project evolved after tenants visited the David Livingstone Centre as part of a visual arts project and expressed interest in a separate museum project. Participants attended a 9-week programme of weekly workshops at Motherwell Heritage Centre and Low Parks Museum between July and September 2007. Developed and delivered by a Project outreach officer, the workshops focused on various elements of curating an exhibition, from conducting background research, and choosing which areas of studies to develop, to selecting objects for display, writing labels and providing design input.

What was learned?

As well as a more positive attitude towards museums, many tenants cited improved communication, research, problem solving and relationship development skills as a result of participation. Social outcomes included an increase in confidence, personal aspirations, personal achievement and sense of local community, along with a rare opportunity to work together as a group and get involved in a community-based project.

For museum staff, key lessons related to planning and organising this type of initiative including the importance of continuous liaison with the Tennant Participation Officer to ensure the needs of tenants were met (e.g. arranging schedules to suit all; providing accessible and comfortable transport. Interestingly, one participant was resistant to the idea of being part of social inclusion project, but expressed enjoyment in his experience of the actual programme.

What is the wider relevance?

The variety of social outcomes demonstrate the positive impact that museums can have on the wellbeing of local communities, leading to an enhanced perception of the importance and value of museums and the difference that learning in museums can make to participants.

The project promoted museum-based learning through outreach and partnership working, thereby encouraging access and widening participation; demonstrated the importance of a learner-centred approach, including consultation and regular liaison with project partners. It facilitated a sustainable relationship with Margaret Blackwood Housing Association; and confirmed the importance of local museums to communities.

How was this project promoted?

The exhibition tour was advertised distributing flyers throughout Lanarkshire and sending a press release to local newspapers. The exhibition was launched in Wishaw Library on 1st April 2008 and toured libraries in North and South Lanarkshire for six months.

What type of evaluation was done?

All participants completed written evaluation forms at the start and end of the programme, and some recorded an oral evaluation using an MP3 player at the exhibition launch. Project partners completed a written evaluation, and a comments book was made available at each exhibition venue to collect feedback from visitors. Examples of comments: “I enjoyed everything we did and would love to do more as a group”; “We have enjoyed making it”; “Good that people can read about it in the Library”.

Associated Images

Participants taking part in labelling for the Cala Sona project

Regional Development Challenge Fund

Project Start
1st Jul 2007

Project End
1st Sep 2007

16th Oct 2009

Who Led?
North Lanarkshire Council

Who else took part?

South Lanarkshire Council Museums, David Livingstone Centre (National Trust for Scotland), Tennants from Cala Sona Court and Margaret Blackwood Housing Association.

Who Paid?
Project under RDCF - Museum, RDCF, and inkind contributions from museums

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