Friday, Panel 3, 301 ILLERUP 14:30 - 16:30


Imaginative objects

Alexandra Woodall

University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom


Keywords: Objects, Organizations, Imagination, Creativity, Staff

Objects are often at the heart of our institutions. Our learning, community engagement, wellbeing and interpretation projects are often inspired by creative explorations of things in our collections by diverse audiences. Yet how often do we, as museum staff, actively use the objects within our care for creative and imaginative purposes within the institution? How do we use objects to question the sorts of knowledge that are prioritised? How often are objects brought into strategic meetings in the museum? When do we ever have the opportunity to use physical experience of objects in shaping organisational values?  Objects are often at the heart of our institutions, yet, I argue, they are often completely neglected within our organisational practices – or at best relegated to having a purpose only to serve some staff, and not others.  In this creative workshop, we will ask how we might rediscover some of the joy of exploring objects in totally new ways to reshape our organisations collaboratively. We regularly work co-productively using objects with our audiences, but what about with our staff? Based on my research on material engagements with objects and on care (and a lack thereof) in the sector, and on 20 years’ professional experience working in creative learning and interpretation roles in museums across the UK (Sheffield Museums, Manchester Art Gallery, Royal Armouries, Sainsbury Centre), this workshop will bring object-based practices back to the fore, placing these as central to rethinking organisational management.   (The workshop will be practical and object-based, and as such, numbers would ideally be limited to 24 people maximum.)