This post has been written by Harriet Evans.
The ‘Who Cares’ AHRC research project began in late August, with the intention to recreate interest in the Science Museum’s Locks. The unloved collections included the Iron Bridge National Slag Collection and MERL collection hand tools.
It was decided, alongside Mar Dixon and the collaborators of the other museums, that two creative activities would be presented and t-shirts dedicated to the project would be a tally system to see which was most popular. Each of the elements had their own Twitter account so the public could actively engage with the event during as well as afterwards.
Four students were involved; two graduates and two third year undergraduates. They all wore bright green t-shirts with the hashtag (#whocares) on the front, with the individual hashtags for each unloved collection. Any pictures taken of the students and the activities were encouraged to be posted online, accompanied by the hashtag of the activity and the #whocares.
On the night of the 30th September, alongside the National Slag Collection and the Science Museum, three tables were used to create the ‘Who Cares’ environment. The first table had a creative writing activity; which allowed the public to write poems or stories on various topics that were involved in the project. The second table exhibited the physical objects of locks and hand tools; as well as some examples from the National Slag Collection.
These pieces were displayed alongside labels and posters that were made by children from the Iron Bridge workshop the previous week. The third and final table had another creative activity, which involved the public writing their own unloved collections on a card and then adding it to the presentation of other unloved collections, within a cabinet, . The third table appeared to be the most engaging and interesting part of the evening as people seemed to enjoy writing down the reason they collect things and contributing to the overall collection. Some cards included collecting boy’s numbers, shoes, debt and handbags.
The responsibility of the student’s was to help explain to the members of the public what was occurring and how they could contribute to the station. There was arrangement of other museums tables throughout the evening and the ‘Who Cares’ exhibit was placed in the main thoroughfare through the museum. The station was constantly visited throughout the night, with people asking to mark on the students t-shirt which element of the unloved collection they found the most interesting. The students stayed in the vicinity of the table engaging with members of the public, giving facts about the different elements and encouraging them to engage with the tables and add to our collections.