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Beyond teaching: Out of hours at the Grant Museum

Author(s): Jack Ashby

Journal: University Museums and Collections Journal
ISSN 2071-7229

Volume: 2;
Start page: 43;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: higher education | informal learning | audience development

To a large extent university museums are dependent on their governing institutions for operational funding and support, space and staffing. At the Grant Museum of Zoology, we identify University College London (UCL) students and staff as our primary audience in order to advocate our work and worth. We strive to attract the UCL community to use the collection informally, in addition to academic teaching. These two formats enhance each other. UCL students and staff attend the Museum’s public events. Not only does this communicate our value to UCL, but as our most local community they can be easier to attract than people further afield. Internal communication systems allow for cheap, efficient marketing. We run free specimen-based activity days for families, which succeed in attracting UCL staff as well as the wider public, and programs of innovative, light-hearted, evaluation-driven events for adults which interest students too. These include exhibitions, hands-on activities, talks, discussions and film nights. Themes addressed are animal-related, but look beyond individual disciplines to attract students and staff with wider interests. Choosing topics that pique our colleagues’ interests, but are fun enough to encourage them to visit out of work hours and bring in the public as well are a recipe for success at the Grant Museum, with total visitor figures increasing 1,000% since the Learning Programs began.
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