Grosvenor Museum, wider context
The Grosvenor Museum is a 19th-century built, local authority-run museum in Chester city centre. Originally built to house the collections of both the Chester Archeological Society and the Chester Society of Natural Science, Literature and Art, today, the museum runs on behalf of the West Cheshire Council as part of the West Cheshire Museums group. (History of the museum, 2018)
As of 2020, West Cheshire Museums have been operating under their new strategic plan for 2020-2025 titled “Curating Change.” Inspired by the insect life-cycle boxes held in the Grosvenor collections and the concepts of “change” and “evolution”, this new development plan aims to take the museums in a more audience-centred direction. (C.D.P.2020-2025, 2020). Here we see evidence of the Grosvenor Museum taking on board its values and principles as a local museum while still following a predominantly "human relations" model. (Davies et al., 2013) An excerpt from their strategy statement says: “...will put local communities and visitors at the heart of our curated collections through a programme of inclusive and accessible, high calibre exhibitions and events.”
Although there is still work to be done, the museum sees itself as taking on its societal responsibility to lead social change through youth programmes, social outreach and coproduced exhibitions. From a personal perspective, understanding that small museums in particular are invaluable resources to disseminate knowledge across barriers directly to local community groups has encouraged me to think hard about how I am to run my art programme responsibly. Hosting an art class within the gallery spaces, surrounded by objects, will hopefully create a juxtaposition that may change visitors’ perspectives on not only the objects themselves but on the function and purpose of the museum space also. By using our collections as a catalyst for social engagement and creative responses (Simon, 2012), we may find that our visitors develop a different kind of relationship with the museum.