- Refugee heritage project
- Report on the London Museum's Hub project to record refugee heritage
- Morris, Jane; Orchard, Kate; Davison, Fiona
The Refugee Heritage Project, the first phase of which ran from 2004-2006, partnered local London museums with refugee communities with the aims of recording and representing refugee heritage, developing a set of best practice guidelines for museums working with refugee communities and developing ways of measuring how museums can benefit individuals, community organisations and wider society. This report evaluates the first phase of the project.
Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered from the refugee participants, consultants and museum staff. 94 questionnaires were sent to project participants [77 were returned]; and a sample of participants, community coordinators/consultants and museum staff were interviewed. In addition, participant museums were asked to conduct focus groups, conduct visitor surveys to exhibitions and events and to keep records of meetings. Data were analysed by creating a framework to compare the findings across the four projects that made up the programme; the framework was based on the concept of social capital and how this impacts upon three areas: quality of life for individuals, community cohesion and organisational development.
Almost all participants felt that they had gained knowledge and skills through participating in the project. Participants particularly valued the opportunity to share their culture and history in this way and felt a sense of achievement from having represented this publicly and in their own words. It was also felt however that the final scale of the project was disappointing in terms of its size and publicity.
Almost all participants felt that the projects were effective in sharing understanding and promoting positive images of refugees' cultures within and between communities. Outside visitors were also highly impressed with the exhibitions and felt that they had learnt things about their own and others' cultures. It is difficult however to prove that the project enhanced cross-cultural understanding. Participants extended their social networks through the project by meeting new people from their own community, from other communities and from different generations. The project appeared to increase the likelihood of participants engaging in community activities more in the future.
Benefits for community organisations included learning about working in partnerships and a better understanding of museums and cultural heritage projects. Many of the groups continued their work with the museums as a result of the project. The projects were felt to be labour intensive and staff changes were seen to have a large impact on the development of the projects.
Benefits for museum staff included increasing confidence of working with community groups and people of different backgrounds, skills relating to working in partnerships and managing the expectations of community members. Museum staff felt that the project had increased the profile of their organisations amongst the communities involved in the project. It is not certain that skills gained by some museum staff were transferred across their organisations.
The project illustrated that the public are interested in refugee groups when the cultures and histories of these groups are presented in an interesting way. Working with museums gives refugees the opportunities to develop new skills and interact with different people; this can increase the confidence of refugees of participating in community activities. Collaborative projects between refugee groups and museums enable the former to enhance their profile and attract funding and enable the latter to challenge their assumptions and practices, and to attract new visitors.
- Resource Type
- Evaluation report
- Funded By
- Renaissance London; Museums Libraries and Archives Council; Heritage Lottery Fund; Moving Here; National Archives