Caring spaces: Individual and social wellbeing in museum community engagement experiences
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Wallen, L. and Docherty-Hughes, J.R. (2022) ‘Caring spaces: Individual and social wellbeing in museum community engagement experiences’, 47(1), pp. 93-102.
This paper explores the narratives of participants in museum community engagement projects in Scotland. Emphasis is placed on how taking part in museum community engagement projects can have a positive impact on the participants’ wellbeing. This qualitative study employed a dialogical research strategy, which involved careful and mindful choreography of the context and space within which interactions between researcher and participants emerged. Semi-structured walking interviews with five participants were conducted in the summer of 2019 at two museums in Glasgow: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and The Lighthouse. All participants had taken part in at least one museum community engagement project in Glasgow. Participants’ narratives reveal the positive impacts that “caring spaces” engendered through museum community engagement work have on overall feelings of wellbeing, achieved through deep processes of critical reflection, which resulted in enhanced self-esteem and confidence, and a heightened awareness of participants’ situated ontology in the context of broader issues of social inequality and identities. Museum community engagement projects, when practiced and experienced as “spaces of care,” have a critical role in enhancing individual and social wellbeing amongst participants themselves, particularly in terms of identifying long-term educational and self-worth legacies.