Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

Mapping the change phase 2

In 2012, the world was looking at Hackney as it hosted the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a huge world event and massive force for regeneration in the area. Mapping the Change was conceived by Hackney Museum to map the huge changes taking place because of the Olympics and Paralympics and contribute to the Cultural Olympiad, a programme of cultural activities and projects to celebrate the Games.

Working with residents from three Olympic Host Boroughs (Hackney, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets), Mapping the Change captured the voices and experiences of local people in response to the changes in Hackney through a range of creative activities including oral history, exhibitions, digital technology, journalism courses, a crowd-sourced film photography competitions and artworks. These responses will be accessioned into Hackney Museum's permanent collection where they will be held in perpetuity as a lasting legacy of the project.

In May 2011 RCMG were commissioned by Hackney Museum to carry out an evaluation of Phase 2 of Mapping the Change, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Aims and objectives

The evaluation focused on the impact of Mapping the Change on its participants, Hackney Museum’s working practices, and the quality of its outcomes and outputs. Evidence was collected through case studies of selected activities, interviews, focus groups, response cards and questionnaires with participants, project facilitators, partner organisations and Hackney Museum staff. The overarching research question for the evaluation was:

  • What is the impact, success and significance of Mapping the Change Phase 2?

Key findings

Hackney Museum offered a space in which to reflect on, and potentially manage, the conflicting emotions that can result from change. Mapping the Change provided the community with the tools to create their own narratives about change and reflect on how they wanted Hackney to be viewed by the rest of the world at a time when the media spotlight was focused on Hackney.
Mapping the Change marked a significant step in Hackney Museum’s relationship with the local community, enabling them to experiment and actively pursue community engagement and development to an extent that was not previously possible. Through Mapping the Change, Hackney Museum demonstrated that they are committed to the interests and development of Hackney’s communities, and the strong belief and passion for community engagement runs through the core of everything they do. This gives them a powerful clarity and focus of vision.

Mapping the Change raises many questions for the future. It shows how museums can deal with contemporary issues in a bold and inventive way when museum practice is embedded into community needs and interests. Mapping the Change captured a moment in time, helping Hackney’s communities to feel part of something globally, as well as locally, significant. It shows how effective museums can be as conduits for community voices and experiences, helping communities to feel part of a process of change, rather than it being ‘done’ to them.


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