During the lockdown of winter 2020, we worked with Fraser Randall project managers to conceive a wellbeing activity to develop and engage the Hastings Museum and Gallery’s audiences remotely and successfully applied for Arts Council/ NLPF funding to deliver it.
Midnight at the Museum was a wellbeing and storytelling project for children aged 6-9. We created fictionalised stories, based in object histories, for six of the museum’s objects, and worked with up and coming local creatives to create illustrations and animations (for both creatives, this was their first professional contract.) Our evaluation was focused on learning more about how enthusiastically children engage with fictional stories and around gauging improvements to wellbeing. We worked very closely with a children’s mental health practitioner to develop the project, also consulting with local refugee groups and local LGBTQ+ groups.
The project was hugely successful, with hundreds of children writing back to the main character each week, sharing their feelings about their life and their enjoyment of the stories. The activity was extended to include in museum trails and CPD and schools curriculum-linked workshops. We are currently working with the museum to secure a larger phase 2 funding pot, using the findings of our smaller pilot project as evidence for the likely success of another activity with broader reach later this year.