Country life

Raphael Malek, 20.03.2013
Are museums more central to local life in the country?
The last of our six public workshops on the purposes of museums took us to Stowmarket, near Ipswich, and the Museum of East Anglian Life.

Given the consistency of some of our findings across the previous five workshops, we had anticipated a degree of predictability in the conversations that would arise.

And, sure enough, some familiar themes emerged.

Those purposes that were perceived as core by participants in Glasgow and Cardiff, for example, were the same as those perceived as core by participants in Stowmarket.

Similarly, the suggested purposes that prompted puzzled faces in York triggered the same reactions here.

Nevertheless, the discussions were subtly different from those elsewhere.

Stowmarket was the most rural setting for any of the workshops and the Museum of East Anglian Life did appear to be more central to local life than museums in larger urban areas did.

A number of participants visited the museum on a weekly basis, while another had volunteered there whilst still at school.

Furthermore, whereas most participants in the cities had instinctively associated museums with large, national incarnations such as The Science Museum, participants here tended to think more of smaller, local museums.

One said: “Maybe it’s because I don’t live in London but I don’t think of the bigger ones – I think of ones like the Bagshaw Museum in Kirklees.”

Over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve covered many miles and discovered the views of a number of different participants. Our full report will be published shortly – watch this space...

Raphael Malek works for Britain Thinks
. The public attitude research report will be published on 2 April 2013.


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MA Member
02.12.2015, 22:30
I have always been drawn to working in a regional or country museum. I feel that I would be able to make more of an impact there and carry out community work that is more of value in these less populated country towns and villages where people have time to stop and take in the treasures and the beauties around them. Perhaps I am simply a jaded Londoner desperate to escape the fast-paced, noise-filled city. Here whenever I find an interesting exhibit or smaller museum I find I am interrupted by the noise of the city creeping over my shoulder. Community events seem to be swamped and events of all kinds become a competitive experience. Though maybe the grass isn't always greener? I'd be interested to hear the views of others...