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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoë Colbeck

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Learning-Mode Set to “Stealth”

I’m Lucy and I’m the Project Assistant for the Heart of the Park project. I’m fairly new to Morden Hall, having only started a couple of weeks ago, but I have got myself stuck in and I am thoroughly enjoying my job! My role is predominantly supportive, helping Zoë the Community Projects Manager and Sarah the Project Coordinator with the day-to day tasks involved in ensuring the success of the project.

Yesterday I attended the first Interpretation Advisory Group meeting. This group is made up of members of the project team, the National Trust’s Learning Advisor and Community Learning Manager for London, as well as external experts from the Science Museum and Kingston University’s Sustainable Design Research Centre. They are all incredibly knowledgeable and their input is invaluable to the success of the interpretation of the HoP project. Although, imparting this knowledge meant that they also had a LOT to say so I was put to work, furiously writing down everything they had to say!

Firstly we looked at the Archimedes screw turbine, the water wheel and the solar panels and the possibilities for interpretation of these things within the exhibition. There was a lot of useful input from the Science Museum’s Gallery Programmes Manager Anthony who provided us with some great ideas regarding our hands-on, low-tech exhibits. He also gave us advice on ways of accessing one of our target audience groups, young people aged 16-25. We thought of hosting eco-art programmes, silent discos, an Eco pub quiz, exhibitions lead by young people and student film festivals. As a young person aged 16-25 myself, all of these activities and events sound exciting so I hope that I can persuade the team to implement a few of them! See the Science Museum’s successful and well-known hands-on exhibition, the Launch Pad for a taste of what you might see at the Livinggreen exhibition.

Finally we discussed ways of making the exhibition interesting and informative without shocking or indeed boring the visitors. The ‘living green’ topic has been ‘done’ many times and audiences have become somewhat bombarded with facts and suggestions to ‘save the world’. The National Trust’s Central Learning Advisor Anthony intimated that some people might switch off when they see the exhibition because of this prior bombardment. To remedy this we devised the catchphrase “Learning by Stealth” which translates as inviting the public into a useful and accessible centre that they find comfortable, then give them the Livinggreen message once they’re in. It sounds brutal and invasive, but we realise that not everyone necessarily wants to learn about making their homes environmentally friendly, so we need to think of ways of getting these visitors around to our way of thinking without making them feel that we have preached about it. And so, by the end of the meeting, our learning-modes were firmly set to “Stealth Mode”!

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