Reading Museum Youth Forum

Emily and Freya have been participating in the Reading Museum Youth Forum. Here they reflect on their experiences.


Over the past year, students in the Abbey Sixth Form have been given the opportunity to take part in the Reading Museum Youth Panel. This forum allows students to be involved in deciding the future of museums in Reading; the running of  museums and curating and discussing possible exhibitions at Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life. 


This year the forum has spent time focusing on looking at items in Reading Museum’s collection from different perspectives. This was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement of last summer and aims to challenge and examine how colonialism has an effect on museums everywhere, no matter their focus. 


Time has also been spent looking at Reading’s diverse community, and how the museum can work to present Reading’s rich social history, and the forum has most recently been organising activities and events for an exhibition they’ve called ‘Festival 50’. Festival 50 will centre around the history of Reading Festival with a focus on the historical and social context of the first 1971 Reading Festival!


A space in the exhibition will hold materials for comparison between the 1971 festival and this summer’s Reading Festival; young people have been tasked with co-curating this space, and creating content for it. Students on the youth forum will receive workshops in which they can work with artists with backgrounds in music, media or platform-building to learn about these and contribute to the exhibition. These will be held in June and July.


The youth forum has been a great experience for those who took part in it, and the History department hopes to have students continue to take part in it into the future.