Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

Their Past Your Future 2

Their Past Your Future 2 (TPYF2) was a three-year annual grant programme funded by Big Lottery for museums, libraries and archives in England. Managed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) the programme awarded over £1 million to 120 projects between 2007 and 2010, enabling almost 35,000 people from England‟s diverse communities to explore the impact and ongoing legacy of 20th and 21st century conflict.

RCMG was commissioned by MLA to evaluate Years 2 and 3 of TPYF2. The evaluation ran from July 2008 – June 2010, using a range of methods to tease out, understand and capture the richness and depth of this unique programme.

Aims and objectives

TPYF2 aimed to encourage the sector to use their collections in innovative and creative ways to increase community learning and young people’s knowledge and understanding of the impact and contemporary significance of war and conflict. Two research questions framed the evaluation:

  1. Has activity within the programme increased young people’s knowledge and understanding of war and conflict?

  2. What was the impact of participation in the MLA TPYF2 programme for individuals and for communities?

RCMG gathered evidence from almost 1,800 participants - including young people, adults, veterans and eyewitnesses of war and conflict, museum, library and archive practitioners and specialists - to explore the dimensions and characteristics of how the programme impacted on the individuals and communities involved, and how these contributed to wider discussions around community cohesion, identity, learning, tolerance and engagement.

Key findings

TPYF2 enabled young people to engage thoughtfully and perceptively with a complex and challenging theme, the impact of war and conflict. Through the projects children and young people were given time to think and reflect upon the issues, often through intensive projects that provided opportunities for discussions, to work through their ideas and explore the consequences. The range of resources used by the projects presented the issues from multiple perspectives and brought them into contact with multiple voices, enabling young people to see that people respond to war and conflict in different ways. Abstract notions of war and conflict were fleshed out, animated with new perspectives and new ways of thinking about the past and contemporary issues. Young people learnt about the impact of war and conflict on their local area, how it has shaped physical environments and the make-up of communities. Contemporary issues made the theme relevant for many young people, who explored the impact that media representations have on society’s understanding of war and conflict or looked behind the myths that create prejudice towards refugees and asylum seekers coming to the UK.

More broadly, TPYF2 created inspiring and memorable activities which helped to cement relationships in some communities through engaging different generations, and showed the critical and powerful role that cultural organisations can play in developing a sense of self-worth in communities. The groundwork in many cases has been laid for the development of much more sustained contact with communities and the development of long-term strategies that will put community needs at the heart of what museums, libraries and archives do.


The evaluation of the MLA Their Past Your Future 2 programme 2008-2010 (2011)
Full report (PDF, 1129kb)
Appendices (PDF, 540kb)

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