Before the workshop, everyone who took part sent through three words that are important to them in their practice. We used these three words to structure our conversations. All photographs: Credit Erik Peterson

20th November 2019, 10am-1pm, Stony Island Arts Bank

In November 2019, a small group of us based in Bradford in the UK – museum practitioners and researchers – came to Chicago with the aim of exploring the leading-edge community engagement work, participatory and co-creative practice.

The Bradford delegation have been working together on a project called Bradford’s National Museum, which has been using action research approaches to understand better how the National Science and Media Museum as a national cultural institution might develop a strong local role and to explore ways for the museum to become more open, engaged and collaborative. Chicago and Bradford have many differences. However, what they share is a need to proactively address racism, develop cross-community conversations and deal with urban regeneration in ways which engage existing communities, resist gentrification, and build community wealth. Both cities also show the potential of establishing powerful roles for museums and cultural organisations in these contexts.

We were motivated by understanding both the histories of community organising and community participation in Chicago as well as the work that is happening in the city now. In collaboration with Elory Rozner (Uncommon Classrooms), we contacted diverse organisations that have demonstrated a commitment to innovative community convening through the arts and sciences. We then invited an incredible group of people to join us for a workshop. What follows is a write up of the workshop and the key ideas that emerged that we will be taking back into our action research in Bradford.

Thanks to all who we met with during our time in Chicago and especially to Elory Rozner and Erik Peterson, who photographed the workshop.

Read the write up / Read or browse the Post Its contributions

Workshop Participants

Julia Ankenbrand, University of Leeds and British Museum

Helen Graham, University of Leeds

Nabeelah Hafeez, Bradford Stories Festival and National Literacy Trust

Regin Igloria, North Branch Projects

Guenievre Jacobucci, National Science and Media Museum

Manny Juarez, Museum of Science and Industry

Sarah Ledjmi, National Science and Media Museum

Nenette Luarca-Shoaf, Art Institute of Chicago

Faheem Majeed, Floating Museum

Ira Murfin, Chicago Humanities Festival

Erik Peterson, Smart Museum of Art (University of Chicago)

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, National Science and Media Museum

Elory Rozner, Uncommon Classrooms

Lydia Ross, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Jennifer Schwarz Ballard, Chicago Botanic Garden

Vanessa Sanchez, Yollocalli/NMMA

Jennifer Scott, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Nell Taylor, Read/Write Library

Rich Warbuton, Theatre in the Mill and University of Bradford

Lynn Wray, University of Leeds

Julie Yost, Rebuild Foundation

Posted by:Helen Graham