Working with Young Children in Museums : Weaving Theory and Practice book cover
1st Edition

Working with Young Children in Museums
Weaving Theory and Practice

ISBN 9781138353008
Published February 17, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages 57 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Working with Young Children in Museums makes a major contribution to the small body of extant research on young children in museums, galleries and heritage sites.

Bridging theory and practice, the book introduces theoretical concepts in a clear and concise manner, whilst also providing inspirational insights into everyday programming in museums. Structured around three key themes, this volume seeks to diverge from the dominant socio-cultural learning models that are generally employed in the museum learning literature. It introduces a body of theories that have variously been called new materialist, spatial, posthuman and Deleuzian; theories which enable a focus on the body, movement and place and which have not yet been widely shared or developed with the museum sector or explicitly connected to practice. This book outlines these theories in an accessible way, explaining their usefulness for conceptualising young children in museums and connecting them to practical examples of programming in a range of locations via a series of contributed case studies.

Connecting theory to practice for readers in a way that emphasises possibility, Working with Young Children in Museums should be essential reading for museum practitioners working in a range of institutions around the world. It should be of equal interest to researchers and students engaged in the study of museum learning, early childhood education and children’s experiences in museums.

Table of Contents

Foreword (Barbara Piscitelli)

Author bios

List of figures and tables


1. Introduction

Abigail Hackett, Rachel Holmes and Christina MacRae

Part I: Thing-ness and the power of objects

2. Introduction to Part I

Rachel Holmes, Christina MacRae and Abigail Hackett

3 The power of objects: little things please little minds?

Nicola Wallis

4 The thing-ness of wood chips

Lisa Howarth

5. Bright and Shiny: infants, toddlers and contemporary art at the Ipswich Art Gallery

Barbara Piscitelli

6. What emerges in playing in The Corner of artist-curated and created matter

Louise Gwenneth Phillips and Roxanne Finn

7. For the love of small stuff: materialising theory in an early years artist residency

Lucy Hill and Aisling O’Gorman

8. Commentary on Part I: On fire

Helen Whitty

 Part II: Museum spaces

9. Introduction to Part II

Abigail Hackett, Christina MacRae and Rachel Holmes

10. Leaving room for learning: University of Cambridge Museums' nursery in residence

Kate Noble and Nicola Wallis

11. The sound of Little Feet at the British Museum

Katharine Hoare and Kate Kelland

12. Young children explore Sewerby Hall

Lucy Cooke

13. Climate, landscape and landmarks: providing spaces for belonging

Elizabeth Clayton and Jack Shuttleworth

14. Navigating, negotiating and lighting up in a nature gallery for under 5s

Elaine Bates

15. Commentary on Part II: Places along lines of flight

Ricardo Nemirovsky and Molly L. Kelton

Part III: Museum spaces

16. Introduction to Part III

Christina MacRae, Abigail Hackett, Rachel Holmes

17. Transport Tots at Streetlife Museum, Hull: a familiar and unfamiliar space

Esther Hallberg

18. Working off-site with families with young children at the National Gallery of Ireland

Joanne Drum

19. Come again! How familiarity leads to repeat visits and confident learners

Victoria Smith

20. Healthy Child drop-in and Baby Stay and Play at Manchester Art Gallery  

Katy McCall

21. Complicating the narrative: preschooler-led museum field trips

Danielle Carter

22. Reflecting on children’s play at the Whitworth

Louisa Penfold and Lucy Turner

23. On What Grounds

Alex Thorp

24. Commentary on Part III: the lived materialities of the museum – a new research agenda

Kate Pahl and Jennifer Roswell



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Abigail Hackett is a Research Fellow at the Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research focusses on the role of place, materiality and the body in young children’s lives in numerous contexts including museums. Her original doctoral research looked at the meaning making of young children in museums and she currently holds a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship entitled "The emergence of literacy in very young children: place and materiality in a more-than-human world."

Rachel Holmes leads the Children and Childhood Research Group in the Education and Social Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research activities appreciate the complexity of the contemporary worlds that young children, families and communities occupy. The work she engages with includes the development of theoretically-driven intellectual, as well as diverse empirical, research and evaluation projects.

Christina MacRae is a Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University whose research interests lie in the Early Years, and, in particular, in the way that sense, affect and movement express a bodily relationship with the world. Her research has focussed on young children’s learning in classroom contexts as well as in museums and galleries. She has been an Early Years teacher in inner-city nursery schools, most recently in Bradford. Alongside her teaching, she has an interest in art-making and she has also worked as an artist in collaborative projects with young children in schools.