We are interested in how young children & those who care for them experience the Museum.
We work with families and educators to create meaningful connections between young children and artworks. Together we explore innovative pedagogies and resources to understand how best to support learning, participation and engagement.
We want to figure out how the Museum can play a role in supporting families and realising the cultural rights of our youngest citizens.
Between September 2023- August 2025, this work is supported by HEIF investment in a new Practitioner Research Associate Collections and Early Childhood. Their research builds on the findings of previous participatory research projects with young children and families to develop and test innovative, scaleable and targeted approaches to knowledge creation through museum research, programming and displays.
The Museum and Me (2023)
A pilot participatory action research project with families.
Community partners: North Cambridge Child & Family Centre
Design partner: Adira Andlay
Exploring how museums can support playful and creative interactions between parents and children, focusing on the potential for scaling high quality early years museum practice with a view to tackling inequalities.
Readers in Residence (2022)
A families-in-residence project.
Community partners: North Cambridge & Chesterton Child & Family Centres
Working with a group of families with young children, we used favourite picture books as ways into the collection, thinking about how the Museum can create a supportive environment for nurturing language and communication.
Funded by Marlay Research and Impact Fund
It’s Our Museum Too (2019-20)
A playgroup-in-residence project.
Community partners: Playlanders Playgroup
We explored storytelling, creative ways of finding things out, following children’s interests, and how to create a sense of belonging at the Museum.
Funded by Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme
Lines of Enquiry (2018-19)
A practice-sharing seminar series focusing on practitioner research with young children & families. Sessions were attended by 35 delegates from 6 different universities, 8 museums and galleries, 4 sector leadership organisations as well as independent academics, educators and consultants.
Funded by University of Cambridge ESRC Impact Acceleration Account
My Nursery is at the Museum and Garden (2017)
A nursery-in-residence project with Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Community partners: Ace Nursery
We were able to take time to observe and reflect on the encounters between children, spaces and objects in the two collections, and to develop a better understanding of what the museum and garden offer to young learners.
Funded by University of Cambridge Museums
Wallis, N. and Noble, K. (2023) ‘The slow museum: the affordances of a university art museum as a nurturing and caring space for young children and their families’, Museum Management and Curatorship https://doi.org/10.1080/09647775.2023.2269145
Wallis, N. and Noble, K. (2022) Leave only footprints: how children communicate a sense of ownership and belonging in an art gallery, European Early Childhood Education Research Journalhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1350293X.2022.2055100
Noble, K. and Wallis, N. (2022), "It's our museum too: co-producing research in a university museum through a nursery residency programme", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 42-55. https://doi.org/10.1108/QRJ-01-2021-0009
Noble, K (2022) Enacting Change through Rebellious Research in the University Art Museum chapter in Burnard, P. Mackinlay, E. Rousell, D. & Dragovic, T. Doing Rebellious Research in and Beyond the Academy; BRILL https://brill.com/view/book/9789004516069/BP000043.xml
Noble, K., Wallis, N., et al. 'Leaving Room for Learning: University of Cambridge Museums Nursery in Residence' chapter in Hackett, A., Holmes, R. & MacRae, C., Working with young children in museums; weaving theory and practice, (Routledge, 2020)
Kate Noble, Senior Research Assocaiate Museum Learning and Participation
Nicola Wallis, Practitioner Research Associate Collections and Childhood
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