Elee Kirk

Children, Nature, Museums

Saturday

29

September 2018

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Museoscope now on EleeKirk.com

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

Boy photographing badger

Elee’s blog, Through the Museoscope, was a fascinating exploration of issues around museums, education and nature. In an attempt to bring together all Elee’s work in one place, I have imported the blog into this website, so all the content that was previously on Museoscope is now here on the new blog page on EleeKirk.com. I’ll be closing down Museoscope some time in the not-too-distant future, so that henceforth all of Elee’s work can be gathered together here on her own website. 

Wednesday

18

July 2018

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Snapshots of Museum Experience Now Published.

Written by , Posted in Research

Snapshots of Museum Experience, published by Routledge, 2018.

I’m delighted to announce that Elee’s “Snapshots of Museum Experience: Understanding Child Visitors Through Photography” has now been published by Routledge. I’ve not yet received the author copies, but I’m looking forward to seeing the book in real life.

Elee’s book is available initially in (prohibitively costly) hardback and ebook formats, so if you want a copy, it might be better to get in touch with your local library.  There will also be a cheaper paperback edition coming out next year. And it is now listed on Google Books, so you can read some of the content over there as well.

Finishing Elee’s book has been something of a labour of love. It has taken a while, but I hope that the book in its final form is something of which she would have been proud.

There are links to places you can buy the book on my website.

Tuesday

20

March 2018

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COMMENTS

Snapshots of Museum Experience

Written by , Posted in Book, Children, Photography

Elee had planned to turn her thesis into a book. She got as far as sketching an outline for the final book before she became too ill to continue. Since Elee’s death, I have been working on refashioning and reworking the thesis, and I’m delighted to now be able to announce that Elee’s Snapshots of Museum Experience: Understanding Child Visitors Through Photography is due out from Routledge in 2018. The book combines museum studies and early childhood studies, mapping the experience of child visitors to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History through their photography and through interviews. The whole thing is set against a background of a broadly Deweyan approach to education and to experience.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Photo Elee Kirk.

I took up the task of reworking the book according to a plan that Elee and I together agreed one afternoon in the May of 2016 in our favourite coffee shop, just a few weeks before her death. Elee had always hoped that the book might be a way of disseminating her research to museum educators and to other scholars. The hardback edition—due out some time around August—will be rather pricey, but hopefully there will be paperback and ebook editions as well that cut the cost significantly.

I may continue to post about Elee’s work on Through the Museoscope occasionally, so do stay posted. And do by all means get in touch if you want to know more about any of her work, or just want to say hello.

Will Buckingham

Monday

8

June 2015

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Notice Visitors, Create Joyful Gallery

Written by , Posted in Children, Exhibitions, Natural history, Visitors

A while back, I discovered that Derby Museum and Art Gallery was about to open a new natural history gallery. This was exciting to me for three reasons: firstly, because I ‘collect’ natural history galleries by visiting as many as I can; secondly, because Derby is very easy for me to get to; and thirdly, because the new gallery had the incredible name of ‘Notice Nature Feel Joy’. This I had to see.

Notice Nature Feel Joy gallery

Notice Nature Feel Joy gallery

Last week, with my sister, Alice, in tow, I managed to get to the new gallery. It’s a lovely space: calm, bright and clutter-free, and full of natural materials (including, of course, the natural history collections). Alice said that it made her feel like she was in a forest.

We were also lucky enough to speak to Andrea Hadley-Johnson, who led the project to put the gallery together. When I asked where the concept came from, she explained that from the outset, the museum didn’t have a particular plan, or even a name for the gallery. All of this came from work carried out with visitors and volunteers to find out what they wanted from such a gallery, what objects they wanted to see, and what nature meant to them. (more…)

Saturday

16

May 2015

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Talking about museum learning

Written by , Posted in Children, Interview, Research

This is a super-quick post, just to say that you can hear me talking about my research on the Boundary Objects podcast, with Dr Amy Jane Barnes and Dr Ceri Jones. Amy and Ceri are good friends of mine, who also studied and now work at the wonderful School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. In this podcast, we discuss my PhD research with young children in a natural history museum, and Ceri’s PhD research about teenagers and Medieval living history. We also think more broadly about the challenges of carrying out research with schools in museums. And we get a bit carried away reminiscing about the 90’s TV show Maid Marian and her Merry Men.

You can find the podcast, and a few useful links, here. It’s fairly long (nearly 40 mins), so I reckon this is a good one to listen to on a long commute, or whilst you’re doing the ironing.

Boundary Objects is a group for early career researchers working with museums and collections. Get in touch with them through their website if you’re interested in joining.

Sunday

26

April 2015

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Finding the Familiar in the Unfamiliar, Or, Reece in Space

Written by , Posted in Children, Exhibitions, Meaning, Photography

Boy wearing an astronaut suit

Reece at the National Space Centre

Last weekend I visited Leicester’s National Space Centre with my seven year old nephew, Reece. As a researcher, I have an annoying tendency of carrying out experiments on my poor nephews. I decided a little while ago that I’d like to start visiting museums with families that I know, and, just as I did during my doctoral research, giving the children cameras to record their visits. The main difference from my PhD research would be that this time I would actually get to join in with the visit. So this was my first attempt at this new project. It was also Reece’s first visit to the Space Centre.

In spite of being related to me, Reece’s family don’t visit many museums, preferring more energetic and outdoor activities. Over the past few years I’ve taken my nephews to an animatronic dinosaur exhibition, to Thinktank, the Birmingham Science Museum, and to the Transport Museum in Coventry. Reece also told me that they’ve been to the Sea Life Centre. This is probably more museum visiting than many children manage, but still not enough to make these comfortable and familiar places to be. It also became clear that Reece doesn’t have a strong personal interest in space as a topic, so the actual theme of this centre didn’t give him any hooks upon which to hang his understanding of where he was and what was supposed to happen there. What all of this meant that the really interesting thing about our visit to the Space Centre was the number of ways in which Reece connected this unfamiliar, over-stimulating, and confusing place to things that were familiar and comprehensible to him. (more…)

Wednesday

4

February 2015

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On How Museums Got Under My Skin

Written by , Posted in Visitors

Dinosaur skeleton at New Walk MuseumGosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Last year was a busy one, to say the least: I spent the first half of the year finishing off my thesis, and then almost immediately began working full time. There’s also been a big and slightly disconcerting change in my life — for the first time in 14 years, I am neither studying, nor working in, museums. I’ve also had very little time to visit museums, so at the moment I’m feeling a bit like there’s a gaping, museum-shaped hole in my life. It’s made me wonder why museums are so important to me.

Several years ago, my parents moved house. In the process, they discovered one of my old primary school exercise books, dating from when I was around 10 years old. In a style that was typical of the ’80s, one of the pieces of work I had undertaken was entitled ‘What I will be doing in the year 2000’. Unfortunately, for a museum person, I am spectacularly un-nostalgic, and seem to lack the urge to hoard, so I no longer have the book. But as far as I remember, my prediction was something along the lines of: ‘In the year 2000 I will be working in a museum. I will live in a flat and have a cat and a car.’

What is strange about this is that I actually have very few significant memories of museums from my childhood. (more…)

Sunday

29

September 2013

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COMMENTS

Some Thoughts on Shopseums

Written by , Posted in Museum shops

A thought has been brewing in my mind for a couple of years now, that there is an interesting crossover or relationship between shops and museums. Both are places full of stuff, both have the stuff intentionally displayed to show it off and to convey something about it, and both are places that some people like to mooch around in their leisure time. Most museums have a shop in them, and many shops have displays of things that are not for sale, but are displayed to give a particular feel to the place. I even wondered about creating a Shopseum Scale. At one end would be shopless museums, and at the other would be Argos.

On Saturday, I visited a place that would fall right in the middle of this scale, at the Old Skating Rink Gallery in Norwich. This lovely old building houses both the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC), a museum of vernacular Asian arts and crafts; and Country & Eastern, an Asian clothing and furnishings emporium. (more…)

Sunday

3

February 2013

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The Armchair Museum Visitor

Written by , Posted in Natural history, Social media, Taxidermy

No, I haven’t been visiting museums of armchairs. In fact, for the past couple of months, for unavoidable health reasons, I haven’t visited any museums at all, which is sad. But today, thanks to my Tumblr-mad little sister, I have totally immersed myself in a rather wonderful museum, which I plan to keep visiting at regular intervals over the next few museum-restricted months. The museum isn’t even local. It’s the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana, USA. (more…)

Tuesday

9

October 2012

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