Please get in touch for more information.
We work with community organisations, charities, communities of interest and interested individuals to explore, research and respond to the Museum collections in mutually beneficial ways.
Past projects have included work with LGBTQ groups, supplementary schools and diaspora communities.
This work enables us to engage with communities that reflect the Museum's London and global context and to enable community knowledge and diverse lived experiences to be visible and represented in the Museum and beyond.
Collaborations can take the form of community-led collections research initiatives, creative responses, co-curation of displays and exhibitions and co-designed events.
From 2015 to 2018, the British Museum ran the Object Journeys project, a programme funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which sought to explore how national museums in the UK, working in collaboration with community groups, could generate alternative ways of researching, interpreting and displaying collections.
Object Journeys was conceived as part of the development of the museum’s World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre, which aimed to help more people explore, access and enjoy the museum’s collections. There were three projects at the British Museum and three additional projects led by national museum partners: Manchester Museum, Leicester Museums and Galleries and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
At the British Museum community partners were facilitated to explore and research parts of the Africa, Oceania and Americas collection and to interpret them in new and innovative ways with the creation of three new displays. The museum, in turn, drew on the important experiences and knowledge of individuals within these different communities. Object Journeys was about learning and exploring together and was designed to facilitate a genuine sharing and exchanging of knowledge.
Object Journeys deliberately sought to test the boundaries of what collaborative practice at the British Museum could look like, and adapted hybrid approaches to participatory practice, community engagement, and exhibition development.
For the first project in 2015/2016, we worked with 10 London-based young adults of Somali heritage. The group were all interested in Somali heritage and were keen to work with the Museum to enable greater access to and gather more information about the Museum's Somali collection. Alongside a series of workshops exploring and researching the collection, the group co-curated a new display case, focusing on Somali craftwork, and hosted a lively programme of Somali cultural events.
The Somali Object Journeys display can be seen in The Wellcome Trust Gallery: Living and Dying (Room 24)
Poet Theresa Lola responded to the group's feedback which explored their impressions of the project, its impact and thoughts to create a new piece of work. Listen to Theresa’s interpretation here.
Somali culture and tradition are areas most people don't know very much about. To some, it may even be unheard of. Taking part in the project was an opportunity to promote and showcase these very aspects of Somalia that the public are otherwise unfamiliar with, by using the British Museum's collection of Somali objects. In my view, there's no better way to achieve this than through this medium as each individual object will tell a unique story and represent different aspects of Somali life, culture, and tradition. I also admired the fact that the Museum sought to create a display of Somali objects by involving young Somalis like myself to have a say and have a first-hand interaction with the Museum and its collection.Huda Haid, Object Journeys community partner
The second Object Journeys project in 2016/2017 was a year-long partnership between the Museum and members of the Kiribati Tungaru Association (KTA). KTA is a group of Kiribati identifying people or I-Kiribati based in Britain who have family, social or cultural links to the islands. The project group were keen to explore the Museums 600 or so Kiribati collection and their histories and to think about how these historical objects could be used to promote Kiribati culture and in turn draw attention to some of the contemporary issues facing the nation mainly the impact of climate change, rising sea levels and the subsequent loss of Kiribati land.
The Kiribati Object Journeys display can be seen in The Wellcome Trust Gallery: Living and Dying (Room 24)
Directed and produced by Victoria Burns, one of the Kiribati Object Journeys community partners this film was made as part of the project and is on display in the Museums Wellcome Gallery.
This traditional song and dance is also performed by members of the UK I-Kiribati diaspora. It shows the importance of the sea and land to the I-Kiribati, and through distinctive body positions the dancers' movements represent the native frigate bird.
The third and final Object Journeys project took place in 2017 and 2018 and was a partnership between the British Museum and a group of eight London-based community partners exploring the theme of family.
Humans form family groups and depend on each other for love, support, safety, care and guidance. This project investigated the similarities and differences inherent in families across time and across cultural boundaries.
The Family Object Journeys display can be seen in The Wellcome Trust Gallery: Living and Dying (Room 24)
Jessica participated in the Object Journeys: Celebrating the Work of Families project at the British Museum, where community partners explored the British Museums collection to create a new display which celebrates the idea of how families support and depend upon each other for love, care and guidance.
Jessica explains how everyday objects she owns remind her of and connects her to her family.