University of Cambridge Museums

Marie Kennedy and Sarah Blake, 12.12.2014
Working with young ambassadors and running artistic programmes
Young ambassadors
University of Cambridge Museums approached North Cambridge Academy to set up a partnership with the school. The aims was to ensure that every young person had the opportunity to visit at least one of the eight university museums.

We approached the academy because is a target school of the University of Cambridge’s widening participation team.

The main strand of the partnership was to create a group of museum ambassadors. Eight students aged between 12 and 15 took part in this project.

Young people attended the Fitzwilliam Museum on a weekly basis; their main brief was to learn as much as they could about the museums to feed back to their peers.

They also made three short films to tell other young people about the museums.

The Fitzwilliam led the project supported by the Polar Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Each museum introduced their collections and led object handling sessions.

The ambassadors led presentations about the museums and their films.

The ambassadors finished the programme by showing their films at a local picture cinema to their friends, family and members of university staff. Students also completed an Explore Arts Award as part of the project.

In addition, the whole school took part in an activities week across the eight museums.

Marie Kennedy is the children and young people officer at University Cambridge Museums

Now in its ninth year, Source at the Fitzwilliam Museum aims to help young people aged 15 to 19 and taking art GCSE, A level, Btec or foundation courses to:

1. Research and extend their ideas in the University of Cambridge Museums’ collections, and develop and extend their practical artwork in the Fitzwilliam Museum’s art studio.

2. Embed the use of museums and galleries as part of their arts development.

The young artists are based in the Fitzwilliam’s fully equipped studio, and can drop- in for a couple of hours or stay all day. We have a different guest artist each day, and museum and gallery educators are on hand to discuss and extend ideas.

Next year, we’ll introduce the opportunity for students to review art works and portfolios, and discuss arts courses and career paths with lecturers and art students from Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University.  

Each Saturday will focus on a different area: printmaking, acrylic painting techniques or conceptual art.

Young people have commented that they enjoy spending time in a professional arts environment and are more motivated to explore their art work, particularly over half-term when they may not have the much-needed space at home.
Sarah Blake is an education officer at the Fitzwilliam Museum