Young people at the heart of our heritage take control of the Swansea Egypt Centre

Thursday 10 November is Takeover Day – the annual day on which museums, castles, historic homes, libraries and archives throughout Wales are run by children - taking on the roles usually done by adults.

They will be young directors, front of house staff, curators, tour guides, conservators, website designers and catering staff. Look out for the ‘I’m Taking Over’ stickers all the children will be wearing and the ‘We’re Being Taken Over’ posters on the organisations’ front doors.  

At the Egypt Centre in Swansea, shortlisted for the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2016, teenagers are in charge. On 10 November they are Gallery Assistants, leading hands-on demonstrations on how to wrap an Egyptian Mummy, giving guided tours, assisting in the gift shop and staffing front of house, welcoming visitors and answering enquiries.

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, who will visit the Egypt Centre in Swansea on 10 November, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to engage young people’s interest in our culture and history, and to empower them to develop their skills and confidence, which is a great foundation to our innovative Fusion programme. Fusion aims to drive up access and participation in culture, to help people in all Wales’ communities gain confidence and skills, and support educational attainment and employability. The enthusiasm and energy young people bring to a museum, gallery or archive benefits everyone, if we involve young people at the heart of culture today, we can set the path to a thriving culture tomorrow.”

Professor Martin Stringer Pro-Vice- Chancellor, Swansea University, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Kids in Museums on Takeover Day at the Egypt Centre and to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, to see the fantastic work the museum does with young people. Takeover Day is a great initiative, allowing museums to really focus on including and empowering young people from all backgrounds, especially those who might be nervous or hesitant visiting a museum. It gives them a clear role. Most importantly, it gives them new visions of what they may do in the future and how culture and heritage can contribute to those choices.”

Actor Michael Sheen, Patron of Kids in Museums, says, ‘Takeover Day gives hundreds of young people the chance not only to do something new and experience museums for the first time, but for their voices to be heard. It provides an opportunity for young people throughout Wales to talk about their heritage – to share concerns and imagine new futures. In challenging times, museums can act as the cement in our communities, bringing young people together to tell their stories. Put museums at the centre of our communities and young people at their heart, and we will all experience a richer, more vibrant culture which excites and enthrals everyone.’

Takeover Day is run by charity Kids in Museums and supported by the Welsh Government as part of their Fusion programme.

Other places which are being taken over in Wales:

At the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth children are manning the desk in the Reading Room, fetching items from the collections for readers, sorting and stamping them.  They are conserving items, acting as guides in the exhibitions, and even ensuring the security of the national collections by taking on the role of security staff monitoring the control room.

At Newport Museum and Art Gallery students from local schools are developing and writing stories about an exhibition, and narrating these stories to visitors.

At the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea,  teenagers are opening up the exhibition in the morning, changing the magnetic window display and creating a new trail for visitors.

At Storiel, Gwynedd15 teenagers are setting up the Christmas displays and Santa’s Grotto, as well as putting together an exhbition about the local department store in the 1940s.

At Brymbo Heritage’s Iron and Steel Works, Wrexham, as part of their Remembering World War One work, young people are the press and marketing officers, curating, selecting artefacts as archivists, writing labels for the displays, and being live interpreters acting out a scene from the First World War.

At Glamorgan Archives, Cardiff, primary school pupils are welcoming welcoming visitors at the reception desk, locating documents in the searchroom, cataloguing new collections, taking over the archives’ blog and hunting for bugs.