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Nursery in Residence

‘Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe what children do, and then, if you have understood it well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.’ Malaguzzi (1)

In October 2017, nine children from a Cambridge city nursery spent five consecutive mornings ‘In Residence’ at the Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The residency formed the basis of a multi-disciplinary, practitioner-led research project by a team of museum, garden and nursery practitioners. We hoped that the residency would give us the opportunity to, ‘stand aside for a while and leave room for learning’, as Malaguzzi describes above.

We were able to take time to observe and reflect on the encounters between people, spaces and objects in the collections, and to develop a better understanding of what the museum and garden offer to young learners. 

Funded by University of Cambridge Museums

(1) Loris Malaguzzi History, ideas and basic philosophy: An interview with Lella Gandini  in Edwards, C., L. and Forman, G. (1993), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach - Advanced Reflections (Ablex: Greenwich, CT)

Project information

Related publications

You can download the executive summary and full report.

Noble, K., Wallis, N., et al. (2020) Nursery in residence chapter in Hackett, A., Holmes, R. & MacRae, C., Working with young children in museums; weaving theory and practice, Routledge  

Noble, K. (2019) Spaces and places for everyone: Findings from a nursery residency in a museum and garden,, research report United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) conference, Sheffield, 12–14 July 2019

Wallis, N. (2019) Seminar Presentation, Kids in Museums Families and Wellbeing Workshop, Manchester, 11 June 2019

Noble, K. (2019) Freedom and control: The challenges of exploring museums and gardens with young childrensymposium presentation British Early Childhood Education and Research Association (BECERA) conference, Birmingham, 19 February 2019

Noble, K. (2018) UCM Nursery in Residence, Engage Conference: A Social Prescription, Manchester, 13 November 2018

Wallis, N. (2018) My nursery school is at the museum and garden: Making space for children, symposium presentation at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association Annual Conference in Budapest (  

Plent, F., & Richards, B. (2018) Botany and art: Linking two museums to reach a new audience, The Tenth International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens in Warsaw

Plent, F. & Richards, B. (2018) A nursery in residence, National Science Collections Association (NATSCA) conference, Leeds: The museum ecosystem: exploring how different subject specialisms can work closer together, April 2018

Wallis, N. (2018) The University of Cambridge Museums Nursery in Residence project: a participatory case study with early years children Participatory Museology Seminar, Leeds School of Art, 25 June 2018

Wallis, N. (2018) Educators growing together, Symposium presentation, British Early Childhood Education and Research Association (BECERA) conference, Birmingham, 20 February 2018

Project team

Felicity Plent and Bronwen Richards (Cambridge University Botanic Garden)
Gemma Pollard, Virginie Ghanime and Diana Church (ACE Nursery)

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