Tag Archives: The Happy Museum

A Happy Museum? Of Course!

Museums are not just about their contents, important though the exhibits are. It’s increasingly recognised that museums have an important part to play in the well-being of people generally, and not just that of their normal visitors. London Transport Museum keenly supports this view and is working to develop its services in less conventional ways. Indeed its very successful volunteer programme is an excellent example of an activity that benefits both the museum and the individual.

Hence the “Happy Museum”: a programme that has been developed with a number of other museums (such as the Godalming Museum and the Story Museum, Oxford) to explore the opportunity for increased sustainability through wider and deeper engagement with all potential audiences. Funding for the “Happy Museum” has been provided by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England, amongst others. One result of LTM’s engagement with the “Happy Museum” has been a project with St. Mungo’s, the homelessness charity, aiming to help excluded people engage positively with society.

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A number of potential volunteers for the project were identified by St. Mungo’s, and they met with LTM staff at an Open Day in late 2012. As a result a group of St Mungo’s clients have been engaged in voluntary work at the museum, working closely with the curators. I met Chris Daniels at the Acton Depot one day recently, where he was busy cleaning a train of 1938 tube stock inside and out in preparation for the Acton Open Weekend. Chris also volunteers with St Mungo’s itself, and has been busy gardening; he confided in me that he was very glad to be working indoors on this particular (very cold) day. So was I!

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Chris told me that he had enjoyed his 3 months volunteering with LTM, and had been involved in bus cleaning as well for the open weekend.  Although his working life had been in the water industry, he has always liked transport. In his own words, “I’ve enjoyed working here as volunteering people are family. It helps my state of mind, and it’s nice to meet other people.” A sentiment that I think many volunteers would echo.

Dave Olney, Volunteer

An Introduction to the Happy Museum Volunteers

London Transport Museum has organised a community volunteer programme called the Happy Museum which aims to create a more inclusive Museum environment. The 7 volunteers working on the Happy Museum programme will develop a Handling Trolley which will be used as part of the museums Mind the Map exhibition.

The Volunteers Perspective
At the start of the project we discussed why we wanted to volunteer and what we wanted to achieve as volunteers. As a group we wanted to meet new people, gain work experience, and learn about the history of transport as well as be able to use Museum resources and work with Museum staff. We wanted to make use of our free time and for our contribution to be recognised. Last but not least we wanted to enjoy our time at London Transport Museum.

What we have done so far as a group is take a tour of both the Acton Depot and the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden. The Museum curators gave us a briefing on what the Handling Trolley is for and its role as an active exhibit. We also had a tour of the library, which will enable us to research and get a better understanding of the collection.
To see more photos from the Happy Museum volunteers see our Flickr set.

Written by James Murphy and Bryan Fulton, Volunteers