Newid Byd | Something New – update

purpleSTARS have begun collaborating as part of the inclusive research project at St Fagans Museum Cardiff. The project is called Newid Byd – this means Something New in English – and is funded by UKRI and delivered by Mindset + Missions, to support museums to engage underrepresented groups.

Our collaboration began online, researching and discussing with colleagues at Amgueddfa Cymru | Museum of Wales and Innovate Trust, who support people with learning disabilities in Wales. The project has paid for Innovate Trust to employ two research assistants with LD to work on the project, Steedley and Aaron.

Together we developed an easy read project information sheet and consent form. We discussed potential sensory interventions, using Steedley and Aaron’s knowledge of the gallery and purpleSTARS’ online research of the Life Is.. Gallery exhibits at St Fagans Museum, Cardiff.

Ajay, our Wiki Master, facilitated an excellent online training session for Steedley and Aaron to become confident in adding content to the project Wiki.

First purpleSTARS in-person visit to St Fagans Museum in Cardiff

On Thursday 26 October 2023, purpleSTARS members, Ajay, Kanchan, Kate, Lee, Rufaro and Samantha travelled by train from Paddington to Cardiff, staying overnight in Cardiff, ready for our first in-person introduction session to the Life is… Gallery at St Fagans.

group standing outside museum
Members of purpleSTARS meeting outside St Fagan’s Museum, Cardiff

purpleSTARS were very impressed with the entry hall to St Fagans. The space is very large, smooth, on one level, and with a very big lift that was easy to find and use. The group were also very pleased to see a Changing Places toilet at the museum.

After introductions to Museum staff and Innovate Trust we all visited the Life Is.. Gallery for a sensory expedition. We explored existing sensory exhibits and suggested additional ideas to add to the gallery for touch, smell, and sounds.

During our first visit many ideas were discussed, we also shared and heard the research from some of our purpleSTARS members in London in a hybrid session, in-person and online. Our discussions continued over a lovely lunch in St Fagans café.

people at a table
Discussions over lunch – purpleSTARS, Innovate Trust and Museum staff

There are many ideas that we need to research and develop, for example:

  • Rufaro suggested sounds, and Samantha smells, to accompany an exhibit featuring an Italian coffee machine
  • Aaron, Lee and Rufaro shared their interest and proposed an exhibit that charted the development of computer games consoles
  • Samantha stressed that exhibits need to be more tactile
  • Both Aaron and Samantha said that an accompanying recording of the museum labels is really important for those who don’t read
  • Steedley explored the story books by a bed exhibit and wondered if we could produce our own storybook
  • Inspired by the four-poster bed and the red bed we all discussed the idea of creating some kind of tactile sensory quilt for the bed based on a Welsh quilt
  • We discussed how existing interactive exhibits such as the dressing up clothes and hats could be developed to be more inclusive
  • We suggested having a photoshoot – dressing up in the costumes offered by the museum might encourage people to have a go at trying on clothes
  • Aaron suggested using an old phone to hear sounds and readings of text labels, as many younger people may never have used a dial phone, and this could be fun and educational as an interactive option.

We also explored an object that we couldn’t immediately identify, and we couldn’t find a label describing it. We wondered about making this into a piece of engagement where people would be invited to Guess the Object.

copper kettle and meat grinder
What is the object on the right by the kettle? We guessed coffee grinder, or maybe a steam pump…

Sioned, a curator at the museum, later confirmed that the object is a meat grinder. We thought that at a Guess the Object session, we could also ask, how does it feel, what noise would it make if it was in use, does it smell?

We are really looking forward to discovering more and developing our ideas in the coming weeks of the Newid Byd / Something New inclusive research project.

Mindset + Missions