Where’s Reading Heading?, Reading Museums, 2014-15

This project looked at the past, present and future development of Reading. It sought to provoke debate about how Reading will sustain a growing population and build a successful low carbon economy whilst Narrowing the Gaps’ between different sectors in its communities.

As an early project update describes, through ‘Where’s Reading Heading’ Reading Museum researched the social and economic history of local green and urban space with  local communities in order to explore ‘what matters most’.  The findings were gathered together and a film, art installation, and environmental display were produced. Reading Museum took part in the 2014-15 ‘Happy and Green Workshops’ and also participated in the symposium, creating lasting and valuable networks with the community of practice. The film, installation and display were used to influence leading political figures in Reading and resulted in a breakthrough role for the museum. Through the project partnerships were developed and participants came from minority groups including BMER and LGBT. Partners and participants have since changed their perceptions, and Reading Museum has become a space for activism and connection within the town.

Brendan Carr wrote a great piece  Can Social History Make us Happy (2015 Social History Curator’s Group Journal) about this and the museum’s earlier project Revealing Reading’s Hidden History.

Evaluation

The vision of the project was that Reading Museum became a trusted advocate and influential agency through which communities are active in shaping public policies that advance well being within a sustainable environment.

The highlights included promising new partnerships with IMUSE, RISC, Reading 2050 and environmental groups, including a new display programme, the Museum  supported Nature Nurture’s Heritage Lottery Fund application for a ‘Wild Town and the Museum has validated new thinking.

Challenges included the risk that the film, installation and display wouldn’t have the desired impact and the impact of ongoing funding cuts.

Further information on the project

Call to action on Reading Museum site

Convergence 2015-2050 – Commission for Reading Museum