Young curators in Birmingham discovered west African textiles

Handling fabrics

Heritage Grants

Birmingham, West Midlands
Birmingham City Council
£21200
Students from Birmingham universities worked with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to create an exhibition to showcase and explore the museum’s West African textile collections.

The six-month exhibition attracted 78,000 visitors and was so popular it was extended twice.

In a series of expert-led workshops, university students explored the museum’s collections of historic and modern fabrics from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Working as a group, they set out a plan for their exhibition to ensure that as many of the fabrics as possible could be touched by visitors. Many had not even been on public display before.

Becoming young curators, they took photographs to highlight the textile’s hidden stories and symbols. They also invited young people from the Drum arts centre to create a short film.

The six-month exhibition attracted 78,000 visitors and was so popular it was extended twice. The experience changed how museum staff worked to attract new visitors.

Many of the young people were inspired to volunteer with other heritage projects and organisations and take courses in textile design.

Abbey Anderson, one of the young curators said: “By working on a project, you can learn a huge range of skills from film-making to event planning, helping you to get valuable experience for your CV.”

Hear more about the project in this interview on YouTube.

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