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Creating New Ways To Develop Awareness Of Museums

Creating new ways to display knowledge and develop museum awareness with St. Mungo’s Primary 7 and the University of Stirling Art Collection.

Two children with brown hair, light skin tone, wearing yellow t-shirts are stool next to a large green pinboard with drawings and handwritten text on it.

The project

In this project we worked with 23 Primary 7 pupils, from St. Mungo’s Primary School in Alloa, to create an exhibition based on their class topic. The aim of the project was for the pupils to be able to use the knowledge they already had and apply it to a museum context. Simultaneously learning more about the role and purpose of museums and galleries and what people do in them.

The pupils visited the University several times over the term. We started by delivering interactive sessions exploring what a museum is, what happens there, and what people do there.

In the second half of the project, we started to develop an exhibition about their class topic, Natural Disasters. Positioning the students as the subject specialists and hosting the exhibition in their classroom allowed the students to become the experts in the project. The pupils decided the key strands of the exhibition would focus on different types of Natural Disasters and then they wrote a mini personal statement explaining why they wanted to be on a specific team.

The teams then had the opportunity to create new artwork, research and write labels, curate their part of the exhibition and develop an interactive element.

The students were also able to ask questions to lecturers in the University’s “Extremes in Science and Society” research group and were supported by student volunteers in the delivery of the project.

The project culminated in the transformation of their classroom into a museum, complete with an Opening Night for family, carers, and friends. The pupils even thought about the museum café and provided refreshments! Guests perused the exhibition and were treated to mini exhibition tours, given by the pupils.

Our kids absolutely loved this project, especially getting to visit the University Art Collection. Although our school is very close to the Uni, most of the kids hadn’t been on a campus or to see an art gallery before.

Megan Duncan, Class Teacher, St. Mungo’s Primary School

Successes and challenges

  • Our biggest success was the opening night of the student’s exhibition. The parent/carer turnout was fantastic, with students excited to share all they had learned and the work they had created.
  • Classroom teachers commented on how the student’s confidence grew throughout the project and how positive it had been for the pupils to feel welcome in a university campus environment.
  • Our first few sessions exploring what museums and galleries were for and what people do in them were very successful in breaking down perceived ideas of the museum for pupils and teachers.
  • The key challenges for us was the extra time that was needed to make the project successful. As we dovetailed the project into their class our staff attended the school and joined in their classes, time which we hadn’t accounted for in the initial planning.


  • As an organisation this project allowed us to pilot working with primary school audiences. We have gained practical knowledge about how our spaces and collections could be used by these groups. We now plan to do more work with schools in the future.
  • For the pupils this project developed a whole range of skills and knowledge. They developed early career skills, learned more about museums and galleries, and met new people from the Higher Education sector.
  • The museum skills that were gained, by both the pupils and the teaching staff, are going to be used in the classroom for future topics.
  • The exposure to the galleries also gave pupils, and their people at home, a better understanding of what cultural resources are available in their local area.
  • The project has also benefitted the school as a whole as connections were established across the University, with opportunities for the school to be involved in more University projects.


  • Whilst we wanted to keep the project very open to allow for co-production, if we were to run the project again, we would schedule more time before the project with the class teacher to set expectations and to align more with their classroom teaching.
  • Fitting into the work that the students were doing already allowed us to quickly gain buy-in from teachers and pupils. It empowered pupils to give their feedback and ideas more easily. They were the experts, not the museum staff.

Additional information

More information about the University of Stirling Art Collection.

If you would like more information about this project please contact Markus Offer, Skills Development Manager, Museums Galleries Scotland, email: