Welcoming Migrants to the School Museum

Schools are somehow universal – every culture possesses places where knowledge is passed on to both young and older people. And that universality translates into school museums – they are not the Temples of Culture that many associate with museums, but places where a common experience is put in the spotlight. That makes them a good place to have different groups interact with each other in an informal setting.

A few months ago, we received confirmation that the Erasmus + program would be funding WINSOME, an educational project set up by heritage institutions in Greece and The Netherlands. On 1 April (no joke), we will officially start this pilot project, which offers an educational program for groups of migrants, including families, in school museums. Its aim is to involve migrants more actively with their newly chosen surroundings and, eventually, to promote their integration and well-being.

Photo: Nationaal Onderwijsmuseum, Dordrecht

The idea behind the project is that school museums offer the best way of making contact with migrant groups in a playful manner. After all, most people have been educated in one way or another. With this in mind, the partners in this project see opportunities to playfully welcome and integrate immigrants into the country they have come to live in.

After researching the specific needs of this group and the opportunities offered by the pilot museums, we aim to design an educational program for groups that may be implemented anywhere in school museums in Europe. The experiences that the migrants gained in their region of origin will be taken as a starting point in order to foster associations and connections between their previous and new societies. In this particular case: how does their education relate to what they observe in a school museum in their new society? The educational program can easily be adapted per museum and per target group due to the project’s modular setup.

The result of the project will be a thoroughly developed and tested educational program that can be used by the participating museums, but also by many others. The results should also be useful in other sectors involved with the integration of migrants. Of course, the ultimate goal is to contribute to a society in Europe where migrants, whatever their origin, enjoy equal opportunities and feel comfortable.

Photo by Heather Morse on Unsplash