GEM Conference, 1996 – participation only

Pallas Education History Foundation
Pomáz, Gárdonyi Géza u. 10./a., 2013 Tel: 26/328-405

Managing director: Ottó Mészáros

Title of project: Participation in “Working Together: Partnerships in Museum Education” (GEM Conference, 27-30 August 1996, Croydon Museum Service)

Project Coordinators: Anikó Korenchy and Zsuzsanna Gyimesi

Report on “Working Together: Partnerships in Museum Education” (1996 GEM Conference,
27-30 August 1996, Croydon Museum Service)
Submitted to British Council: Sept 24, 1996

Summary: Zsuzsanna Gyimesi and Anikó Korenchy participated in the 1996 GEM Conference in Croydon titled “Working Together: Partnerships in Museum Education” 27-30 August. Their invitation was a result of the Conference that Pallas Education History Foundation organized in April, 1996. They also gave a presentation on the activities of the Foundation on the very last day of the Conference in London.

Background: Pallas Education History Foundation organized a conference/training last April with the active participation of Ms Sue Wilkinson and John Yorath, SEMEU (South Eastern Museum Education Unit). The conference on museum education was a great success, and Zsuzsanna Gyimesi and Anikó Korenchy, volunteers of the Foundation have been invited to the GEM (Group for Education in Museums) Conference in August 1996.

The objectives of the GEM are to:
*Promote education as a central function of museums
*Encourage the exchange of information and ideas relating to the practice of museum education
*Foster the highest standards of educational practice
*Promote the role of museums in formal and informal education
*Promote the recognition of the professional role and status of educators in museums.

Croydon, the location for the conference is a southern part of London (see map below). Croydon is not a city, though on two occasions (in 1928 and 1993) it has made a bid to become one. It is nevertheless the tenth largest town in England, with a population of 313,500 in 1991, larger than that of many cities. Administratively it is London Borough, one of 33.
The borough has a significant working population and is a major regional shopping centre. Yet for many of the people who live and work there, or who visit, the London Borough of Croydon is the local authority, an administrative entity, but not an identifiable place.
Senior officers within the Borough Council perceived that Croydon had an image problem and that a newly established museum was key to its economic future. They wanted to put Croydon on the cultural map. In order to do this, they set up a museum in Croydon which had to be new, different, modern, daring, high profile, glossy, sponsorable and popular.
This museum of Croydon hosted the GEM Conference this August.

Sessions visited:

Tuesday, 27 August
20.00-21.30 Keynote address (Partnerships in museum education)
Val Bott, Deputy Director, MGC

In this session Val Bott briefly reviewed the institutions that the Museums and Galleries Commission is in partnership with as well as the guidelines relating to education they are providing for museums (i.e. education is a core function, access for all, senior education officers should be part of the management team, education staff should be trained, etc.)
She has also pointed out common grounds for partnership as well as the values of cooperation (including shared resources, mutual access to new expertise, training opportunities, etc.)
Finally, she remarked that “the ultimate partnership is between museums and the public.”

Wednesday, 28 August

9.30-10.45 Keynote address (Museum education and museum training)
Chris Newbery, Director, Museum Training Institute
After giving basic background information about the MTI, Mr. Newbery talked about its similarities with and differences from other culture and arts organizations. He also described different postgraduate museum courses at three different universities if the UK. Additionally, he defined competence and reported on the new system of sector specific qualifications. At the end, he emphasized that “costumer care IS different from education”, with which the audience has greatly agreed.
11.15-13.00 Introduction to Croydon Museum Service
Sally MacDonald, Principal Museum Officer
In this talk we have heard about the setting up of the museum and the origin of the collections. She has also explained us the research that has preceeded the establishment of the museum. After her description of the three current exhibitions (Lifetimes, How Do You Take Your Tea? in the Riesco Gallery, and Eye Spy in the Clocktower Court) participants could all tour and explore the exhibition areas.
14.00-16.00 Seminars: Friends or Foes: Museum education and marketing·
Helen MacKintosh, Dep. Director, London Transport Museum
Melanie MacFarlaine, Development Manager, Commonwealth Institute
After reviewing a few definitions of marketing, we have been introduced to the marketing policy of the London Transport Museum. We have also been provided information about their marketing budget as well as the different ways they survey their visitors.
Ms. MacFarlaine talked about the work of the Commonwealth Institute and their planning model. She has also pointed out the importance of incorporating the different costumer needs because “everything matters to what they are going to think of you.”
Making art galleries fit for children··
Professor Ken Baynes, educational design consultant
The professor introduced his work as a special exhibition designer. He also showed slides of the exhibitions he had designed specifically for children. In the discussion following his talk, participants have discussed some obstacles that the British school system has to face at schools and that makes some teachers change their jobs .
18.30-20.00 Buffet supper with Mayor of Croydon
Foreign participants have been invited to the Parlour of the mayor
20.30-21.30 Madeleine Mainstone Trust Lecture
The Victoria and Albert Museum and Industry
Geoffrey Opie
This lecture briefly introduced us to the Madeleine Mainstone Trust and the new grant opportunities. Geoffrey Opie also gave a very academic lecture on applied arts and the work of Victoria and Albert Museum in the training of artists.
Thursday, 29 August Study visits to the Museum of London···
The visit gave an insight into the life of a relatively well-funded museum in a time of a status change for the education department. Staff described how they had achieved a better position within the museum after writing their education policy.
They have introduced participants to the use of drama in the galleries, which is a relatively unknown method in Hungary. (see handouts in Attachments)
We have also heard about their experience with developing community links with minority groups . (see handouts in Attachments)
Thursday, 29 August (contd.) Study visits to
Ragged School Museum and London Transport Museum····
Between these two visits, the visit to the Ragged School Museum was more valuable to us because it resembles more to small Hungarian museums. This museum is situated in a poor, working-class area, and serves as a meeting place for local children. It is possible because the museum has no entrance fee. They only charge for their special programmes (e.g. Victorian classes, special exhibitions, guided tours for adults, etc – see brochure). The musem also uses volunteer help extensively. The manager of the museum pointed out that the lack of resources generates more creativity and activity. She also shared her joy of being challanged by her half-year contracts which make her work harder.
The representative of the London Transport Museum talked about their work and problems in getting in a wide range of audience. Participants have also mentioned that the “Museums´ Day” announced by the Museum Association was not a successful event, namely, it was a financial disaster for the Transport Museum.
Friday, 30 August
9.00-11.00 National Report Feedback
David Anderson, Head of Education, Victoria and Albert Museum
After discussing in two groups the selected draft recommendations from the National Report, participants have made their suggestions for correction to Mr. David Anderson, head of the committee preparing the National Report.
11.30-13.00 New research (Introduced by Vicky Woolard, City University)
Friday, 30 August (contd.) Seminars:
Building local networks·····
This session compared the work of the three area advisories, and gave a model for building links with other organizations. They systematically described the process from finding the person in charge to signing a partnership agreement.
engage: Education in Galleries······
In this session we could hear about the reasons of changing the name of the organizations as well as their activities. Participants discussed four paintings in small groups and each group designed an activity for children relating to the picture.
16.30-17.30 Plenary session
This session has also included a presentation about the work of the Foundation given by Zsuzsanna Gyimesi and Anikó Korenchy. The presentation was originally planned to be a 15-minute one but turned out to be 40-minute instead. The skeleton of the presentation was:
1. General introduction to the Foundation
2. Research project
3. Conference/Training in April, 1996 – accompanied by slides
4. Further plans (next training, advisory)
5. Request for support
Despite the fact that it took up nearly the whole time for the plenary session, it seemed quite successful, organizers of the conference have been suggested they should invite more foreigners to the next GEM conference.


1. We have been able to meet museum professionals working all over Britain as well as in Belgium, Switzerland and the US. We have already shared names with Hungarian museum professionals, facilitating the establishment of direct links between museums in Hungary and the UK.

2. We have collected a great number of brochures and other materals from museums and other institutions (e.g. “Managing Museum and Gallery Education” – guidelines by the Museums and Galleries Commission, Resource pack and activity book fom the Museum of London, etc.). These resources will be shared with Hungarian museum educators at our next conference in January 1997.

3. We have also collected a great number of new ideas which we have alrady shared with museum professionals at the last Museum Café Meeting in the National Gallery on the first week of September, and plan to share in more detail at our next conference. This presentation by Zsuzsanna Gyimesi at the Café has also generated more interest in the media, so 1-2 interviews have been scheduled for the Hungarian Radio.

4. The Foundation has been donated a full year of subscription for the GEM Newsletter. We have also been promised by the editor to publish an article about our Foundation in the next Newsletter.
5. We have found out the dates of a British Council course for museum educators (21-27 September 1997), which we would like to participate in.

6. As an unexpected result, we have been honoured to meet the Mayor of Croydon who is interested in setting up a sister district connection with one of the districts of Budapest. Information has been forwarded to the Mayor of the 3rd district in Budapest.

Costs: The British Council Donations Participants
Conference fee 170,-GBP 170,-GBP (by GEM) –
Conference evening meals 110,-GBP –
Travel 15,000,-HUF – 42,000,-HUF
Accomodation stayed with friends
Miscellaneous (presents, xeroxing, photographs, etc) – – 6,000,-HUF
TOTAL: 350,-GBP 170,-GBP 48,000,-HUF

· visited by Anikó Korenchy
·· visited by Zsuzsanna Gyimesi
··· by Anikó Korenchy
···· by Zsuzsanna Gyimesi
····· visited by Zsuzsanna Gyimesi
······ visited by Anikó Korenchy