Enquiremanchester’s Weblog

The Manchester Museum is the lead museum in the North West Manchester cluster in a national project about art and learning for engage called ‘enquire’

How’d the Young Curators do and what’s next…. May 3, 2011

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The young curators from Manchester Creative Media Academy (Boys) did a fine job of putting on exhibitions here at the Museum. They followed a creative curatorial process to design exhibitions, which would appeal to the diverse audience that visits The Manchester Museum.

One group devised an exhibition for the ‘young children’ that frequent the Manchester Museum. Cameron, Dylan, Connor. Declan and Ethan chose a selection of stuffed animals from the collection. They had to think of a theme, which would best show off the objects and reveal information to a certain audience. They thought that representing them through a food chain would be a great way to get young children to engage with the objects and help them learn basic science.

The group supported their exhibition with a series of images and text, to transform their selection of objects into an interesting exhibition. The interpretation (written information that goes with an exhibition) was targeted at ages 8 and above, so that it would be accessible to their chosen audience. They supplied images of basic food chains, appropriate animals hunting and eating in their natural habitat.

The group then identified and represented the order of their particular food chain from the Museum objects on display with clear signage. They also told their visitors interesting facts about the objects, including information about their natural eating habits. These supporting objects, together with the stuffed moles, bugs and butterflies, owls and foxes, made for a clear and interesting exhibition.

I have uploaded images of the exhibition, text written by the students and the young curators in action on the exhibition day. The finished exhibition was described as ‘good enough for the main museum’ by a Visitor Services Assistant!

The Curatorially Thinking project at Manchester Museum has made us think about the secondary art provision as a whole here, as it uncovered a great strength in our programming. The Museum is a great place for learning about contemporary creative practice. The current arts programming is closely linked to curatorial, collections, arts and academic practice. We have decided to re-jig the arts programme this summer and re-launch it in September. The programme will be streamlined and developed, so that these connections are at its heart.


Coming soon… April 21, 2011

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I’ll be putting together a new blog post next week…. I’ll be telling you how our Young Curators got on (amazingly!) and telling you what’s coming next for Arty things at the Manchester Museum.

We have lots to report on the ‘direction’ of the Arts programming here. It’s all very exciting and will bring out the best in the existing provision.


Dena Bagi


What’s going on… February 22, 2011

Filed under: News,Research — enquiremanchester @ 1:49 pm

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Hello everyone. My name is Dena Bagi, and I’ve recently taken control of the arty happenings here at Manchester Museum.

I am really excited about the next few months – we have loads going on! Young curators have been let loose on the collection at the Museum, independent creatives will be exploring the Museum with a little inspired guidance and students will be using their creative flair to compare the Whitworth and the Manchester Museum. School groups will also continue to enjoy our varied Secondary Arts Programme.

Curatorially Thinking lets teen curators design exciting exhibitions, and has been up and running since January. The students have been working hard to understand what the Museum does and who it’s here for, and in response have created ways that certain visitors can enjoy or engage with our collection. They have created exhibitions that make the food chain come to life for primary school children and give anthropology students a chance to enjoy some cultural artefacts. Their creations will be on show on the 19th of March during our Big Saturday here at Manchester Museum.

I have uploaded some images of the project…feel free to ask questions and tell us what you think!

I’ll be updating you soon about our work with the Whitworth Art Gallery, where and delivering cross-site art and science sessions.



Looking back and moving forward September 17, 2010

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Time for a new artist to take the helm of the Arts programme for Secondary Schools and Colleges.  I’ve been steering the way for a good while now but will shortly be moving on.  As an artist and educator I couldn’t have asked to work somewhere with a greater wealth of resources.  I know from working closely with students, teachers and artists that the Museum is an extraordinary place for creativity, inspiration, critical thinking, and passion – so I can’t wait to hear how the Secondary School Arts programming continues this year and beyond.

I still get that tingle down my spine as I walk through the Egypt gallery and the leap in my stomach as I round the corner towards my old friend Stan.  I’ve felt privileged to share that through projects which made the Museum more accessible to young people, making space for them to explore the Museum on their own terms and to share their own sets of sensitivities.  By enabling young people to have the type of freedom that artists usually enjoy,  we’ve been able to forge new meanings and dialogues – both oral and visual.  I believe each visit by a young person has changed the Museum – just a little bit – for them, me and everyone else who visits and works here.

The Museum is a changing place and it’s increasingly changing the world around it too.  It will be hard to let go with so many exciting things coming up – the China exhibition, new natural and archaeological displays, new programming for schools, colleges, community groups and the public.  For me it’s always been about the Museum as a whole: its people, places and collections.  Thank you to everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with: staff, teachers, artists, academics and students alike.  You’ve really brought the building and it’s contents to life!  Kate Day


Dublin discovered – a few of my favourite things July 8, 2010

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What better way to consider collaborative cross-curricular working within your team than to hop out of your routine for a few days and discover some cool stuff together?

That’s just what the Secondary and Post 16 Learning Team did a few weeks ago and I’m still being inspired.

As the Lead Arts Educator I relished the opportunity to drag some of my more ‘science-y’ colleagues around art galleries – but, of course, they didn’t need any dragging!

A few of my favourite things:

‘smiles on scientists’ – Alexa’s (Lead Educator for Science) face when we finally made it to the Science Gallery and it’s exhibition of coral reef crochet.  Also meeting the exhibitions curator and hearing about the science/art approach.

‘drawing in galleries’ – taking a bit of time out at the National Gallery to sit and do some drawing

‘aura and authenticity’ – going to the Natural History Museum and the spectacle of the displays (also the VS staff who was really keen to let us know we could take photos – much appreciated!)

‘art and ideas’ – speaking to the Learning Curator at Ireland’s Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), especially her thoughtful approach to working with artists and how she is approaching engagement with modern and contemporary art ( with an emphasis on ideas and dialogue rather than hands on making)

‘chilled and contemplative’ – cool concrete The Douglas Hyde Gallery – a hidden gem where we loved the Americana in Stephen Shaw’s photography

‘dirty pretty things’ – the mosaics and gold in the Archaeology Museum – my precious

‘liquid beef’ – drinking Guinness – exploring identity in a drink 😉

Natural History Museum, Dublin

The Guiness experience


Home educating at the Museum. June 26, 2010

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Check out this fab work made by young home-educated artists at the Museum a few weeks ago.  Who knew so much could be achieved in two short hours which also included research in the Darwin exhibition?


Big Art, Big Ideas new secondary school session April 22, 2010

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Recording and collecting in the Darwin exhibition

I was joined by Blessed Thomas Catholic College Year 8 art students yesterday at the museum.  The new session Big Art, Big ideas uses the Darwin exhibition as a starting point to consider how young artists can communicate concepts and ideas through simple visual forms.

The group started off by considering image, text and design down in the exhibition then we headed up to the Life Lab which had been turned into a print and design studio.  We turned the collected observational drawings, found text and design techniques recorded in the exhibition into striking fine-art design work using simple print and pen and ink techniques.

While we stuck to black and white during the session, everyone headed back to school with an eye-catching design which they could develop in colour if they wanted to.

I’d suggest they try:  collage, coloured acetate, paint, more printing, ink colour washes or digital processes.

The thing I most loved about the afternoon (apart from the sheer enthusiasm and ability shown by the students) was seeing how putting together observational drawings, found words and images against a scientific, historical and artistic backdrop made new and playful meanings of their own.

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