This year we have been striving to reach out to wider audiences with volunteering and provide interesting and meaningful ways for people to get involved with the Museum.
On Saturday 26 October, we hosted our first family volunteering day at the Museum Depot in Acton. The event was hosted in partnership with The Family Volunteering Club, as part of a wider pilot series of events aimed at families in London.
The day provided families with an opportunity to visit our Museum Depot on a weekend afternoon, and spend some recreational time together supporting the Museum. The day focused on working with our London Transport Miniature Railway team, who spend a large part of the year maintaining and investing in the miniature railway from track repairs, to signal upgrades and everything in between to prepare the railway for providing public rides at Depot Open Weekends.
Despite the weather being wet and gloomy, everyone arrived with bags of enthusiasm. The group were welcomed in the Depot lecture theatre by Keith Raeburn, Depot Logistics Supervisor, Maddy Mills, founder of The Family Volunteering Club and myself, before heading outdoors to see the miniature railway. Families got stuck in with tidying up the grassy areas, clearing leave from the track (yes that happens on miniature railways too!) and loosening screws on the track ready to be replaced.
As the rain continued we took some respite by heading into the lecture theatre for tea and coffee and to make use of the soft play facilities. The children enjoyed the down time and it gave time for more informal conversations, with one youngster expressing his enthusiasm for 20th century EMU recognition!
The volunteers were rewarded for their efforts with a ride on the miniature railway at the end. All the families enjoyed their time with us, and everyone left with beaming smiles on their faces. Some parents commented:
A patient team who made sure each child had a good experience.
My son asked lots of questions and everyone was lovely and friendly to him. Great experience.
Keep an eye on our website for more volunteering opportunities coming up in 2020!
Back in July we partnered up with museum freelancer Sacha Coward and invited people to use the #MyJourneyToPride hashtag to document and share their stories of travelling to Pride in London and UK Black Pride on social media. We also asked some people to record video diaries of their journeys in order to create a picture of the lived experience of a group of people from the LGBT+ community in London in 2019.
This film is a glimpse into the experiences our diarists had over the weekend. How did they feel about their journeys? Did they feel safe travelling to the events? Did they ‘de-rainbow’ for the journey home?
When we asked people to record their stories we sought a full picture, not just the positive, and were thankful to be entrusted with accounts than included good and bad. Alongside the moments of celebration and connection there are incidents of abuse and examples of people feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. One of the clips towards the end of the film shows how walking home alone in the dark can feel unsafe. It’s all part of the story that we wanted to record.
We didn’t know whether trying to collect these stories via a hashtag would work, but we were pleased to see that over the weekend the hashtag was pretty active, being shared around 500 times. We’re now in the process of approaching people to ask permission for rights to preserve their content within the Museum’s collection.
These stories will enrich our collection and give these experiences a place in the history of transport in London. They will sit alongside physical objects that we collected in recent years which you can learn about on our website, including posters, badges, oyster wallets and the first rainbow crossing. We hope to preserve the poster series that TfL installed at Green Park station as well. We will continue to work to build our LGBT+ collections in the future, and hope to do more to learn about the history of LGBT+ communities and their transport experiences.
We want to thank everyone who supported this collecting project. We are very grateful to be entrusted with caring for these stories, objects and experiences. We are currently working on ways to display and interpret this material in the Museum itself, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
If you shared material but have not heard from us yet or if you have material from Pride weekend which you haven’t shared yet but would like to tell us about, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
London’s transport brings people together, especially for major events like the Pride weekend, which this year is taking place on 6-7 July. As part of a new collecting project, we are looking for people to document their journeys to Pride in London and UK Black Pride 2019. We are inviting video diarists to record their feelings and thoughts throughout their journeys, and we are also encouraging people to take part in the project by sharing their photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #MyJourneyToPride and by tagging @ltmuseum in the videos, photos and text that you want to share.
If you’re making your way to Pride or UK Black Pride then let us know what is exciting about your journey. How does the atmosphere change as you get closer to the events? Are you seeing more people heading the same way as you? What does it mean to see more flags and rainbows and banners in London? We want to record the social side of the story that objects don’t convey by themselves.
The stories that you record and that we collect will help enrich some of the material we already have in our collection like banners, posters and the first ever rainbow crossing. A great deal of material we have in the Museum that represents the LGBT+ experience is focused on the stories of members of staff, and we would like to invite passengers, pedestrians and participants to make their lived experience a part of the history of transport in London too. The experiences of non-binary and transgender people are under-represented in the Museum’s collection at the moment and we would particularly welcome material that is more inclusive of all genders.
This year it is as important as ever to take to the streets to take a positive stance against violence and discrimination targeted at the LGBT+ community. London Transport Museum will offer space to preserve and record the thoughts, feelings and experiences of people travelling to Pride in London in 2019.
Please consider a few things if you are keen to take part in the project by tagging content for the Museum to see:
Crowd shots and groups are fine to film or photograph with verbal consent, but please don’t film or photograph individuals close-up. This especially applies to young people and children
Please don’t share and tag footage that might enable people to locate your home
Stay safe, please don’t put yourself in danger and only film/photograph when you feel comfortable
When I first told friends that my new job at London Transport Museum would involve seeking out social stories about transport, a common response was to ask, Can you find out who keeps the plants at Kew Gardens station so neat? Or Who writes the ‘Thought of the Day’ board at Oval? and other questions along those lines.
I could see there was a strand here: a set of social stories based on the individuals or groups who, through projects and interventions great and small, are making the most of spaces at stations, and making an impact on the staff and passengers who pass through.
A lot of the narrative around transport tends to focus on the means, modes and methods of travel. Before any discussion on what form of transport you use and where it allows you to go, comes a place, a stop or a station. These stops and stations act as both defining pillars of the local area and gateways to a wider world. This makes them a particular breed of public or community space, ripe with opportunities to engage and relate to local need.
I set up our Social Stations Documentary Curator collecting project to celebrate the ways in which these community and grassroots projects are reclaiming, or re-calibrating, spaces at stations for public and/or environmental benefit. Whether simply boosting the mood of passers-by or actually contributing to the local economy and culture, these projects link local people to a local need, and make the most of previously underestimated public spaces which are experienced every day. They can also contribute to your sense of space and community even when you’re en-route.
Some of the most exciting moments as a curator come when you can give a new understanding to an object in a collection, and in so doing use it to tell a different story. Through contemporary collecting, you have the opportunity not just to help shape how the present will be remembered once it becomes the past, but also to make people reassess the world around them now. As a result, contemporary collecting involves a lot of conversations, consultation and observation. This means that some of the sources contemporary curators use to gauge a subject and its significance are a little more informal, and perhaps more social, than you’d expect.
For this project I’ve spent a lot of time on messaging boards and social media feeds hunting out the truly local projects that don’t get the credit they deserve on wider platforms. I found the majority of examples we’ve explored because someone had shared a post or comment saying the difference a detail like this makes to their day.
We look forward to sharing some highlights from this collecting project with you soon, and invite you to get in touch with us if you know of a local project you think we should capture, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport doesn’t just take people from A to B, it connects us and allows disparate parts of our city, and of our lives, to link.
Our project, LGBT+ Linking Lives, aims at collecting stories about how transport connects LGBT+ lives and communities across our Capital. We want to hear about the journeys, sites and stories in which transport has played a role in people’s experience in London.
In this blog Andy De Santis – Vice Chair of OUTbound , TfL’s LGBT+ Staff Network – shares with us how London transport has shaped his relationships and experiences.
Even before working in transport, I could already understand its importance to the LGBT+ community. When I arrived in London, I initially met a varied group of friends on LGBT+ websites. We were an odd mix of people, from quiet guys in suits to the leotard-wearing nonchalant extrovert. We’d meet up at different venues every weekend – a welcoming break from our exhausting work life. This was our opportunity to be ourselves, free of shame or judgement as we got inside the Tube laughing and enjoying being together.
Do you remember what it was like before the Night Tube? After a night out, everyone would drag themselves along to the bus stop to catch their night bus, like tired zombies in the night – ruined make up, dirty clothes, sometimes the stench accompanying someone who had partied too hard!
But the night bus was a place of freedom. Sexuality, race, gender, nothing mattered. Do you remember the big groups? They’d usually be the loudest ones, screaming as if to tell you they’d had such an awesome time. I also remember when they’d start singing – on a couple of occasions others on the bus would sing with them. This bizarre sing-a-long is perhaps what I miss the most from that time. Although I was a bit shy at the time, just hearing everyone around me singing was mesmerising. People united in song, all declaring how they had a good time.
Oh, the good times… all the connections, and that’s what transport does, isn’t it? It connects communities and people. I volunteer with a service helping LGBT+ people struggling with addiction and some come from outside the city, as support isn’t available in small towns. I could tell you many stories about me, but I’ll skip the “when I got the bus/train/tram”. Most of my experiences wouldn’t have happened without public transport. Transport connects us to people we care about. Isn’t it funny how we take that for granted?
London Transport Museum’s Documentary Curators, Susanna Cordner and Ellie Miles, collate and collect perspectives on and stories about the role transport plays in contemporary London. Their work gives us the opportunity to bring new voices into our collection and to make sure that the history and narratives we tell reflect the experiences of different kinds of people.
In this blog, Susanna reveals what attracted her to this role, and introduces her latest collecting project, LGBT+ Linking Lives.
What first drew me to the role of Documentary Curator was the opportunity to seek out and share different kinds of social stories. Transport seemed a particularly potent subject through which to do it. Public transport acts as a great unifier of public experience. If you dare to look around you, next time you’re sat on the Tube (I grant you, this isn’t common practice, but it might be worth the risk), more likely than not you’ll find yourself framed by a diverse range of people, with a greater mix of ages, ethnicities, and orientations than the majority of other work places or public spaces can offer.
Public transport is therefore a social space, a social subject, and, simultaneously, the performer of an essential social role. Transport doesn’t just take people from A to B, it connects us – it allows disparate parts of our city, and of our lives, to link.
We took inspiration from this for our current LGBT+ Linking Lives collecting project, through which we are collecting stories about how transport connects LGBT+ lives and communities across our Capital. We want to hear about the journeys, sites and stories in which transport has played a role in your LGBT+ experience in London.
I’ve been collaborating with colleagues from OUTbound, TfL’s LGBT+ Staff Network Group, who have been so generous about sharing their stories so far. The subjects of these stories range from experiencing public transport as spaces of safety while transitioning, to the accepting community and revelry of the night bus, from feeling heartbroken heading home on the Tube to finding joy in staffing a station during Pride.
We will be sharing these stories over the coming weeks, and they will be the subject of a pop-up display at our upcoming Friday Late: London Stories on Friday 8 February.
At the event, you will also be able to add your own love stories to a giant map of meeting places. In case you want to record your own piece of past or present there and then, we will also be hosting a pop-up oral history booth on the night.
The everyday can often tell us more about the human experience than the exceptional, and the role and impact of something as arguably humble but essential as transport on our lives deserves to be remembered. I look forward to hearing your stories!
Learn more about our Friday Late: London Stories event on 8 February, and book here.
London Transport Museum is always at its quietest before a School’s Early Explorer Morning. There are no visitors yet and all the sounds in the galleries are turned off. Even late in the evening, long after the Museum closes, you can still hear the occasional audio narration echoing from a distant part of the galleries. But just before an Early Explorer Morning, all those sounds are silenced, and with good reason.
Our School’s Early Explorer Mornings have been running since 2014 and, three times a year, they provide us with an opportunity to welcome students with a broad range of Special Educational Needs (SEN), including Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), physical, emotional and behavioural needs.
For many SEN students high levels of noise, big groups of people and unfamiliar places can be stressful, uncomfortable and unmanageable. This can make many everyday situations difficult to deal with, and a visit to a museum as busy and noisy as the London Transport Museum is practically impossible. By turning off the sounds across the Museum, restricting the number of groups who come and keeping the Museum closed for an extra hour to allow exclusive access for our SEN students, we can combat some potential barriers to visiting.
Our latest School’s Early Explorer Morning took place on Friday 16 November. For some of the children visiting as part of school groups, it was an opportunity that remains a rare one; one visiting teacher told us the highlight of the trip was that for her learners, we were “giving them opportunities that otherwise [they] wouldn’t have – including driving/sitting on trains and buses”.
As well as offering a quiet introduction to the Museum, we also provided a number of additional flexible and sensory experiences, designed to cater for a range of learning needs and abilities. Explorers were able to explore our All Aboard play zone, meet historic characters, get close to our collection with our object handling team, climb aboard our vehicles and make use of our self-guided sensory explorer bags.
These multi-sensory bags are filled with objects and resources that enable learners to make deeper connections to our collection. They focus on four key vehicles in the Museum galleries and contain a range of objects for learners to interact with, including sounds, smells, images, props and interactive objects. These were developed in consultation with SEN teachers, pupils and sensory story specialist Jo Grace, as part of our commitment to supporting teachers’ needs across our School’s programmes. They are, according to a visiting speech and language specialist, “like having a little bit of school in a bag”, and “the best such bags she had ever seen.”
On a School’s Early Explorer Morning, the Museum stays at its quietest for a while after opening. As the school groups drift in one by one though, the noise rises – although not to the same pitch as when the Museum is at its busiest – with the excitement of children having the entire Museum to themselves when they may not have the opportunity to visit such places at all.
On the 16 November, many of the school groups decided to stay in the Museum after the noises were switched back on, and the Museum opened up to the public and visitors started filtering in. Having become comfortable in the Museum environment, many of the students found that they were more relaxed and more able to be themselves in an occasionally chaotic environment.
As the visiting teacher said: “thank you for the amazing day on Friday. Our pupils loved it so much and had a day they will always remember.”
The Museum aims to ensure all visitors to have an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience. We are committed to making London Transport Museum as accessible as possible for all children, including those with physical and learning difficulties. And happily, on those quiet mornings when we open only for our Early Explorers, we can.
Our next School’s Early Explorer morning is on Friday 29 March 2019.
The Museum’s Family Programme also delivers Early Explorer Mornings for family visitors. The next one coming up is on Saturday 15 December 2018 from 8.30 until 10.00. In 2019 an Early Explorer Morning or Explorer Evening for families will run every school holiday – dates coming soon.
If you would like more information about the School’s and Family’s Early Explorer mornings and other events, please do get in touch with us on email@example.com.