Community Perspectives

There is an area in the Horniman’s World Gallery called ‘Perspectives’. It is about arranging museum objects in groups to tell a story.

The objects chosen and the way they are displayed will be different for everyone. There is one showcase in this area for community groups to tell a story using objects they have chosen from the Horniman’s collection. Every two years we will work with another group, to display their perspective.

The first display: 2018

The Horniman asked the Access Advisory Group to be the first community group to do this so that disability would be visible in the new gallery. They also helped the Horniman make a toolkit to make the process as accessible as possible for future groups. Find out more about their display.

The Community Perspectives case ensures that the World Gallery becomes more relevant to groups less likely to visit the Horniman, keeps gallery content contemporary, allows regular visitors to see something new on repeat visits and encourages visitors to share their own perspectives.

The process

  • February 2016: The Horniman introduced the idea of doing a display to the Access Advisory Group and the group looked at the brief.
  • April 2016: A curator at the Horniman started researching potential objects by looking up words to do with disability in the object database. The group visited the Study Collections Centre to look at the objects the Horniman had identified. This is the building that stores most of the Horniman’s collections
  • May 2016: The group defined key messages for the display.
  • June 2016: The group decided which objects should go into the display and the list of objects was sent to the gallery designers.
  • July 2016: The group presented their ideas to the gallery designers.
  • October 2016: Two curators led an object layout session for the group to see where the things chosen for the display would go and if they would fit. The group took part in a text writing session with an external text editor to discuss key messages and try writing some text.
  • December 2016: Group member Natasha came to the Horniman to do her drawings. The group looked at a visual mock-up using pictures of the final object choices.
  • January 2017: The group took part in another text writing session to share final ideas and suggestions.
  • February 2017: The text went through an internal review process at the Horniman before it went to the external text editor.
  • April 2017: The group shared ideas about a toolkit to make the process more accessible and to evaluate the process.
  • May 2018: The group made a toolkit to be used by future community or access group co-curating a display at the Horniman.
  • June 2018: The display opened to the public.

“Can we do what we like on disability? We didn’t always agree.” Natasha

“At the beginning we really weren’t sure we would find any objects at all (big question: could we be visible?) – and we found dozens of really interesting ones! From all around the world and not just negative stereotypes! (answer: we’re everywhere and the objects prove it!)” Julia

“I would like to get across how it was challenging to look at the Museum’s collection and see beyond negative images of disability. As a group we have tried to find objects that represent all areas of our life.” Claire

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