Each group of students worked with a university of Bristol history student to make a presentation on an object related to The British Empire. Objects included a stuffed chimpanzee brought over from Sierra Leone as a pet, the Delhi Durbar painting, a huge Chinese bell and a mummified Egyptian. They took over by re-interpreting their object from a young person’s perspective, using dance, music, drawing, interviews and lively debates.
Their research even included a tour of the store rooms by the World cultures curator. One of the boys on seeing a collection of stored Native American spears exclaimed “someone needs to buy me one of these for my birthday”.
It was great to see teenagers interacting with their own objects and giving their presentations to the rest of their peers. They included heated debates over whether objects obtained from British colonisation should remain in Bristol museum or be returned to their original countries.
It was fascinating to see so many secondary school students enjoying being involved and inspired by university history students themselves to make museums interesting and accessible for a younger generation.