On 26th February 2014 a group of 30 museum practitioners gathered at the Royal Society in Edinburgh to discuss the formation of a Happy Museum (or ‘Cantie’ Museum after Burns: “Contented Wi’ Little and Cantie Wi’ Mair”) Community of Practice in Scotland. Supported by Mission, Models, Money the event brought together representatives from Glasgow Museums, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries, National Trust for Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Scotland and many others.
As Peter Stott of Falkirk Community Trust said in introducing the event – “As David Brower, founder of the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies said, ‘We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’ The giving back of our planet to our children is the project of the day – and the Happy Museum Project addresses it in a museum context”.
The group heard from Ben Twist of Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS) who gave an overview of the cultural context and the work of CCS. He spoke of the power of culture to change the world – a power beyond its size and carbon footprint to affect society in a shift from a culture of consumption to one of flourishing.
Tony Butler, Founding Director of the Happy Museum introduced the project focusing on activity to date and learning for the future. He was followed by representatives from the Robert Burns Birthplace Trust, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Falkirk Community Trust who spoke inspiringly of the ways in which they had applied the Happy Museum Principles in their museums.
A wider ranging discussion followed. The current cultural context was discussed and the time appeared ripe for such a development. Examples of existing ‘Happy Museum’ practice were shared and ideas for the future proposed. It was felt that a Community of Practice would provide a focus for activity, a mechanism for sharing good practice and data, a peer network and an opportunity to raise awareness and share with the wider sector.
By unanimous consensus in the room it was agreed that a Community of Practice be set up – and a core group was tasked with meeting again to develop initial ideas. A small group would also attend the forthcoming Happy Museum Symposium in March to connect with the wider programme.
For more information about developments please email us at Happymuseumproject@gmail.com and we will put you in contact.