Brendan Carr: Museums Change Lives

Transformers case study
Brendan Carr, the community engagement curator at Reading Museum, has been developing a rolling programme of co-curated community displays, underpinned by his learning on the Transformers programme.

The programme is geared towards a sustained collaborative approach to engaging Reading’s communities.

The first display, an HLF-funded Hidden Voices exhibition opened in the last week of January. Carr was inspired by Professor Richard Sandell’s workshop - Influencing others and instigating change - at the Transformers residential.

Carr’s subsequent work with LGBT communities in Reading to co-curate Hidden Voices reflects this. By bringing the life and times of Reading’s LGBT heritage into the spotlight, the exhibition aims to promote tolerance and understanding.

Research into Reading’s hidden gay history, conducted by volunteers recruited by Reading’s Support U charity, sheds light on the town’s place in the story of homosexual oppression throughout the centuries.

Project manager Bobby Smith said: "Throughout the project I have learned that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being.

"And we all deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise."

Carr’s work means that Reading Museum now has community partnerships in place to populate the displays until the end of 2016.

Transformers is supported by CyMAL, Arts Council England and Museums Galleries Scotland:

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