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It's our museum too: co-producing research in a university museum through a nursery residency programme

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Wallis, N 


jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Purpose</jats:title>jats:pThe authors draw on Howard and Thomas-Hughes' (2020) framework for quality assessment of co-produced research, to interrogate our assumptions and processes and to reflect on our project. They consider if they achieved our planned outcomes around developing practice, enabling a range of voices and perspectives within their research, and enacting change within the university museum.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Design/methodology/approach</jats:title>jats:pThe authors’ early years residency programme explores the potential of collaborations with community groups to transform knowledge and practice through action research. As museum educators, the authors find synergy between the participatory pedagogies underpinning their practice and the co-construction of knowledge within action research. Both are committed to enabling diverse interpretations within a collective and supportive framework. Within their project, practitioners from the museum and playgroup worked collaboratively to collect video footage, photos, children's artwork and reflective journals and memos.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Findings</jats:title>jats:pThe process of action, observation and reflection revealed much about the authors’ different perspectives and they found variations in both pedagogy and practice. Although the authors had a shared commitment to providing high quality, memorable, exciting opportunities for the children, the exploratory nature of the project meant that they did not agree what these experiences might look like in advance, and so they had different understandings of what they saw.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Research limitations/implications</jats:title>jats:pAlthough the authors’ methodological framework was designed to make their research collaborative, structural challenges and the contexts of the art museum and university reinforced long established hierarchies. While some felt supported by the research process and the prestige of working with a university museum to gain legitimacy for their practice, others were disempowered by these same structures. The authors consider their obligations as practitioner-researchers to become aware of the role they play in maintaining, as well as challenging, hierarchies and assumptions.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:sec<jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Originality/value</jats:title>jats:pYoung children in museums is a growing area of study and this practitioner-led action research project develop a new strand of enquiry within this field. Through this research the authors can collaborate with community partners to record, analyse and make visible the many different ways in which young children experience the museum. As research led institutions, university museums are ideally placed to develop research in partnership with local public bodies and community groups. However, future work in this area would benefit from a more explicit consideration of the constraints implicit within the institutions within which they all operate.</jats:p></jats:sec>



Practitioner research, Museum, Young children, Drawing, Action research, University, Early years

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Qualitative Research Journal

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