Kids in Museums’ Takeover Day has become a firm favourite for many museums who see it as an opportunity to engage with younger members of the community. Established in 2010, Takeover Day continues to expand and evolve as more museums interact with schools and community groups to give youngsters a chance to get behind the scenes and hands on in their venues.

Kids in Museums say their informal Planning and Sharing events will help these organisations plan their Takeover Day as well as offer ideas and advice from those who have run a Takeover Day before.

These events are free and open to museums, galleries, archives or heritage sites and are aimed at both organisations running their first Takeover Day and those who have run takeover event previously.

Student Opps Grant
Students from St Ambrose Barlow in Salford Takeover the Festival of Change fringe at last year's Museums Association Conference in Manchester

Case Study - Liz Thorpe, Learning Officer - People's History Museum

Last November for Takeover Day we had a small group of six students, a mix of year nine and ten, from St Ambrose Barlow high school in Salford who were part of a school journalism club.

We were planning to do an event for Takeover day but were approached by Kids in Museums of doing something linked to the MA Conference. The students became undercover reporters and they infiltrated the Museums Association Conference, specifically the Festival of Change fringe. It was a good opportunity because the museum was taking part in quite a few ways at the conference as well, so it was good coverage as it was also in Manchester.

The organisers were really keen and we knew that we wanted to interact with the exhibitors but not in a traditional way, in a more creative way.  I visited the school the week before and conducted a workshop to introduce them to the museum, Takeover Day and also to generate some ideas of what we could do on the day.

I wanted it to come from them and everything we did was based on ideas from the students. Students at St Ambrose Barlow School have been coming to the museum for day visits for quite a while and last year we were partners together on a project through Curious Minds and I saw Takeover Day as an opportunity to strengthen that relationship and take it forward.

‘I love doing Takeover Day’

One of the reasons I love doing Takeover Day is the chance to do something a little bit different from the day-to-day work and something more creative and to work closer with schools and also Kids in Museums.

It’s a good opportunity for us to trial new ideas and to see how we can be mutually beneficial, so we will try and develop an activity where we as a museum can listen to young people and try new sessions. I will get them to do some exhibition engagement but then listen to the feedback they give and actually use that to help them with our work.

It’s really helpful for the schools as you are helping the students with social skills, which will help them with future careers. It might also open doors for careers they hadn’t thought of before. It is also really valuable for us as a museum to hear what the young people think. A lot of what we do at the museum surrounds working with the communities and this is an extension of that in a way.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, the simplest ideas can be the most effective and some of the exhibition engagement we have carried out has been a brilliant opportunity for the school and isn’t that scary.

Creating something useful

We do not see Takeover Day as a one-off event, we see it as creating something useful to complement what the school is doing and what the museum is doing. We try something new every time. Last year I went to the workshop at Manchester Art Gallery and spoke about an event we have done in the past. Even though we were there to provide a case study I found the workshop really useful and came away with a few new ideas.

It was nice to see how different organisations of different sizes approach it. This year we are planning a Takeover Day but we are not sure if we will do it on the actual day – the beauty of this is that you can do it any day of the year.

We will potentially be doing something with our textile conservation studio and get the young people involved in discovering how we care for our collections and the science behind it. It’s a chance for them to get hands on.

A lot of what Kids in Museums do has really helped us align our practice and helped with trialling ideas and getting feedback. The takeover day that we did before the last one took place in March, which was when a new exhibition opened, and a school trialled a new session for the museum and we made amendments to the exhibition before we rolled it out.

You can make it fit into your calendar – we have done this over the years with primary, secondary and youth groups.

Family friendly Museum Award

The positive benefits of the People’s History Museum winning the Kids in Museums’ Family Friendly Museum Award can be split into two.

From a public facing point of view it has helped to show families that we are a place for them. We are a political museum and that can seem off-putting. But we are showing that it is somewhere you would want to bring your family as we are engaging with all ages and we do it really well.

From a museums point of view, it’s given us a platform to share some of the things we do. Best practice with speaking at a few conferences about the work we do with communities in particular.

Talking about challenging subjects and making them understandable and engaging. Launching a new website soon and the feedback from the judges has helped us with that.

The People’s History Museum has recently launched a new website. Check it out here.

Don’t forget to register your event on the Kids in Museums website. And remember, each year Museums + Heritage Advisor is also taken over  so make a note to send your Takeover Day photos and stories and get published! Email the editor.

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Details of Planning and Sharing Events

Where: The Pen Museum, Birmingham
When: Wednesday 13 June
Time: 10.30 – 15.00
Book here

Where: Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston
When: Monday 18 June
Time: 10.30 – 15.00
Book here

Where: National Museums Cardiff
When: Monday 25 June
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton
When: Thursday 28 June
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: River & Rowing Museum, Henley
When: Tuesday 3 July
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: Wrexham County Borough Museum
When: Monday 9 July
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: Kettles Yard, Cambridge
When: Wednesday 11 July
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: Museum of the Order of St John, London
When: Thursday 12 July
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here

Where: York Castle Museum
When: Monday 16 July
Time: 11.00 – 15.00
Book here