Credit: Sir Cam

The University of Cambridge Museums

Kate Noble, 16.06.2014
The University of Cambridge Museums Thresholds project aimed to inspire new writing, audiences and partnerships. Run as the museums’ first Major Partner Museum project, it also involved the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and the university’s library.

Ten poets worked over two weeks, with 890 attendees at events and readings and 397 young people taking part in workshops.

The evaluation study focused on the project’s aims and used mixed methods to capture the voices of those involved in the many different strands to the project. We also captured some demographic data.

Data collected included:

  • Paper surveys at public readings
  • Online surveys emailed to teachers, poets and project partners
  • Photographs
  • Film footage documenting young people’s workshops

The paper surveys had a 30% response rate at public readings. The online project partner survey was completed by half of those approached, which indicates this is a useful way to collect feedback from colleagues and stakeholders.  

Four of the eight young people’s groups completed pre- and post-visit survey forms but the response rate here was almost 100% as they were presented to participants as part of the workshop.

There were no responses to the teacher survey, indicating that this is not a good way of collecting feedback from this group. However, teachers were interviewed as part of the evaluation film, again highlighting the benefits of different ways of collecting data.

The evaluation findings revealed how Thresholds had stimulated conversations between new audiences and collections and found a place for their voices and perspectives alongside existing institutional discourses.

It highlighted the potential of poetry to inspire, disrupt and to bring collections to life and in so doing has led to the programming of further creative partnerships between different disciplines and collections.

Kate Noble is the education officer at the Fitzwilliam Museum