Adele Patrick


Issue 117/01, p15, 01.01.2017
What can museums do to support social integration?
Adele Patrick, creative development manager, Glasgow Women’s Library

“Museums have never been more needed as spaces for people from all backgrounds to cross paths, share stories and connect in meaningful ways. The lodestone of memory and history is hugely compelling, a universally relevant concept that museums can use productively with an array of communities. We have made space for engagement with objects, oral histories and archival material by people who are new citizens, aren’t confident readers or whose lives are delimited by violence, with integration and understanding among a host of empowering outcomes.”

01012017-mari-loweMari Lowe, project coordinator, Refugee Wales, Oasis Cardiff

“Objects and stories can be used to create safe ‘meetings’ between people. Many people don’t have the opportunity to meet someone who is seeking sanctuary. Also, very few people would willingly talk about their refugee experience in public. Our Refugee Wales exhibition creates a space to listen. If you do want to foster face-to-face integration you should consider letting other people run your events programme for you. I teamed up with people who knew their neighbourhoods better than I did to create relaxed, fun events that brought together refugees and non-refugees.”

01012017-alex-bird-140Alex Bird, sector development officer, Museum Development North West

“Social integration is something we can take for granted in cities like Manchester, but it is still an issue in many parts of the country. The result of the EU referendum has had a huge impact in terms of social and economic isolation among some groups, and the nation seems to have retrogressed somewhat. Being at the heart of many communities, museums are in the perfect position to address these fears with honest discussions. They should be working closely with isolated groups to support integration in communities and support society in these trying times.”

01012017-emma-routleyEmma Routley, project officer, Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales)

“Supporting social integration isn’t just about one-off events or specialist projects, it’s about reminding communities that everyone has a story to tell. It’s about museums creating sustainable partnerships, asking for advice and opinions, providing safe environments to discuss controversial issues, and uncovering hidden histories. It’s about reflecting what the community wants and needs. Social integration is about collaboration and variation but, more importantly, being inclusive and working together to make history come to life.”