Russian tour guides at the Curious exhibition

Glasgow Museums

Collaboration between museums and community groups
Curious was an ambitious and far-reaching project delivered by Glasgow Museums to create intercultural dialogue and a legacy of increased understanding of other people, the city of Glasgow and its collections.

The project had four strands:

1. An 18-month community-led exhibition in St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art;

2. A learning programme focused on cultural awareness and strategies for intercultural dialogue;

3. A schools programme developed with teachers, in line with the Curriculum for Excellence;

4. A symposium reflecting on intercultural dialogue and participatory museum practice.

The community-led Curious Exhibition (August 2011 - January 2013) was the central and most visible aspect of the project. About 100 people selected and interpreted objects from the St Mungo Museum’s collection for display.

More than 1,600 people also participated in developing the exhibition and related events.

Collections were central to the project, as were the participants, and the museum had to make a commitment to being a partner in dialogue with external groups and individuals rather than the voice of authority.

One person involved in the exhibition development said: “What I liked about the project, why I got involved, is that it isn’t curators telling us what is right. We’re doing this, we’re making it, and that’s very special.”

The result was an eclectic selection of objects and interpretations, and a diversity of voices and perspectives. By focusing on intercultural dialogue around objects, the museum aimed to achieve a satisfying experience for participants and an accessible and engaging one for visitors.

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