So, as I said, the co-delivery of the sessions went pretty well. We delivered three sessions in the herbarium during Big Draw week and with each one the non-herbarium staff (Jen and I) got more confident with how far we could let the students be free to explore for themselves. After the first session Leander said he thought we could encourage the students to explore more so I made sure to emphasise that in my introduction to the following sessions and throughout. This seemed to work and by the third session students were opening up drawers and boxes, asking for particular objects – such as the ‘oldest thing in the collection… something from Egyptians times, perhaps’, and gathering them together as they wanted to.
What worked particularly well for me was being able to allow Leander, Suzanne and Lyndsey to lead on their area of specialism and for me to lead on the art side of things backed up by my museological training. Sometimes leading art sessions at the museum can make you feel like you’re not sure who or what you are representing for the students. Are you a representative of the museum and all its histories and meanings, or are you the artist exploring the museum independently and sharing how you do that with the students?
By formalising our various roles in the delivery of the session it felt like we could each give something unique to the session. In addition to that, Leander was great at making sense of the different ways that artists and scientists use the collection. He’s had the chance to work with quite a few artists who have come to make work in/with the museum so framed it quite nicely by saying that both scientists and artists are looking for certain ‘truths’, but that how we each qualify those truths might be different.