Happy Museum launches 5-Year Study

The Happy Museum are embarking on an in-depth 5 year study with a small group of museums, investigating the impact of wellbeing and sustainability on individual, organisational and community resilience.

The museums will be brought together in a dynamic programme of action research and supported peer learning. It will be underpinned by a learning evaluation and research programme using the LIFE methodology (research focused on Learning, Interaction, Feelings and Environmental care).

Building on learning from the past four years of Happy Museum we will bring together teams from participating museums in a programme of provocation, action, interaction, connecting, learning and mentoring.

In the spirit of the development of the Happy Museum the programme will be co-created and developed over the 5 years, with potential for further funding to be secured to support project activity.

Without any further ado it is with great pleasure that we introduce our Community of Practice so far!

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge

In 2012 Beaney House received Happy Museum funding for their ‘Paper Apothecary’ project. The Paper Apothecary was an installation project created entirely out of recycled materials; visitors were given the opportunity to consult the Beaney’s resident chemist and receive a ‘cultural prescription’ to brighten their day. Through the project the museum forged stronger relationships with their communities and united disparate groups of staff. Being part of the Happy Museum has acted as a catalyst for new ways of thinking at the Beaney, placing sustainability and wellbeing at the core of their organization. Through participating in this study the Beaney will be able to focus on sustainability as they continue to develop the £7 million HLF project that has refreshed and revitalised the museum.

The Lightbox

The Lightbox in Woking have been supportive of the Happy Museum project and principles since the beginning. Their most recent project Waste…Not focused on public attitudes to re-cycling and the effect of consumer goods on wellbeing. The Lightbox is striving to be a museum and gallery that don’t just record social developments, as might a supposedly impartial historian, but rather want to be pro-active in seeking solutions to the challenges we face today. The Lightbox see Happy Museum principles as a key part of strengthening valuable two way dialogues with local communities. Through participating in the study they hope to become a leading resource for sustainability and wellbeing and gain a clearer grasp of how to measure the impact of their work, whilst to learning from other organisations on the programme.

Derby Museums
Derby Museums is an independent museum trust that operates the city’s three museums, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, Pickford’s House and the Silk Mill, on behalf of Derby City Council. Derby Museums was previously awarded Happy Museum funding for their Re:Make the Museum project, an innovative project that put the regeneration of the Silk Mill in the hands of the local community. Following on from this project, co-production has been embedded as a core ethos at Derby. Earlier this year, Derby Museum & Art Gallery’s Natural History Gallery was re-developed in consultation with local communities. The new gallery ‘Notice Nature, Feel Joy’ was put together by a diverse cross section of the community which brought previously untapped knowledge into the museum. Broadening participation with the public has benefited the displays in the museum and the wellbeing of participants. Derby Museums cause is to expand the perception of what a museum is and can be. Derby has over 300 years of Industrial Heritage and innovation is central to the narrative of the city. The collections at Derby enable a unique critical discourse around the context of scientific discovery, the ‘taming’ natural world and dependence on fossil fuels.

Manchester Museum

The Happy Museum five year plan comes at an important time for the Manchester Museum as they reposition themselves as a campaigner for a more sustainable world. Manchester Museum will build on the active citizenship of previous projects such as the Happy Museum funded Playful Museum, the Museum Allotment and new Living World Galleries. By participating in the study, the Manchester Museum will be able to learn and reflect on the ongoing process of reshaping their vision and campaigning for change. As a university museum they have an important responsibility to experiment and engage with complex ‘big ideas’, therefore by being part of the Happy Museum community of practice Manchester Museum can share and test bold ideas over the next five years and take time to evaluate, whilst drawing the wider museum and academic community into the mix.
Happy Museum are in discussions about extending this study to museums in Scotland and Wales – we will share news about this as well as learning from the study as it develops.