Helen Barker: Museums Change Lives

Transformers case study
Assistant director, engagement and participation, at Beamish Helen Barker’s project is about enabling as much community involvement within the development phase of Remaking Beamish as possible – focusing specifically on the Nominate Your House project, which is about local people suggesting and then deciding which pair of 1950s semis they would like to see replicated at the museum.

This is the first time that Beamish has opened up decision making about which buildings should be included in the development of the museum.

Barker and her team are currently in the middle of delivering 12 public events in the 12 local authority areas of the North East to encourage people to nominate a 1950s semi for inclusion in the project and to gather feedback and stories which will help to shape engagement within the new buildings.

Transformers has given Barker the confidence to advocate more strongly for the role of community-led decision making at Beamish and create a better understanding of community participation and what it can achieve across all teams at the museum.

There has been significant engagement from communities across the North East and Beamish has been developing relationships with community members in areas of the region where the museum has not previously worked, particularly in the Tees Valley.

This work offers an opportunity for those with lived experience of the 1950s to shape the physical space of the new museum while influencing internally to ensure that all staff understand and are engaged with the benefits of this approach.

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

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