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Reading the Walls – The challenges of co-production

Reading the Walls is a collaboration with TATE Liverpool concerning approaches to co-designing gallery interpretation. It has been led by the ICC’s Sue Potts and Deborah Riding, TATE Liverpool’s Programme Manager for Children and Young People. The project has involved seminars and events for gallery education professionals, academics, marketing and social media experts, curators, and visitor and audience groups. Reading the Walls seeks to answer the following research questions:

  • What professional challenges exist for all those with responsibility for mediating between the collection and the audience?
  • What barriers exist for professionals and audiences to work together?
  • How can interpretation content be made accessible to a broader audience?
  • How can we achieve collaboration between professionals and audiences?
  • What operative modes could co-design take? What principles should underpin the methodology?

As part of our discussion, Dr Esther Sayers of Goldsmiths University led a workshop for all TATE Liverpool staff involved in mediation between the collection and visitor. Her presentation concerning ‘Otherness’ tasked TATE staff in explaining works for their most challenging of visitors.

The project culminated in a seminar in June 2016 which included presentations from TATE Liverpool’s Mike Pinnington, who discussed new approaches to gallery interpretation; Deborah Riding, Programme Manager, Children and Young People at TATE Liverpool, who presented research which contributed to her PHD (Now, tell me what it really means: The politics of knowledge co-creation in the public art museum); Professor Chris Whitehead from the University of Newcastle, who discussed participation and visitor experiences in art museums; and Dr Esther Sayers, who provided closing statements.

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