Heritage attractions and young people 

The Museums Association recently reported that almost a fifth of 18-30 year olds never visit museums.  

The research was commissioned by Ecclesiastical Insurance and published to coincide with Heritage Day 2018, which took place on 6 December. It showed the impact that being taken to heritage locations as a child can have in later life; of the young people who said they were never taken to museums as children, 69% never visit as adults.   

The survey found that many young adults prefer to stay in and watch TV or use social media rather than go out and visit a museum or gallery. With this in mind, technology could play a significant role in engaging more young people with heritage; more than a third (34%) said a good online presence would encourage them to share their experiences on social media, and more than half (52%) of those who had visited a heritage organisation online said the digital experience inspired them to want to visit in person

Liat Rosenthal, the curator of Tate’s monthly late-night events, believes that the key to engaging young people is to involve them in the decision-making process. She said: “Museums and galleries benefit when they offer platforms for young people to produce content, such as live events, commissions and digital content, and by supporting their creative ideas with time, resource and expertise.” 

On the subject of the Tate’s own Lates programme, she added: “These events welcome an extensive range of emerging artists to the galleries. It’s a privilege for cultural institutions to give space and support to young creatives – they are the future.” 

Children explore The Higgins museum, Bedford. Image courtesy of Cat Lane
Children explore The Higgins museum, Bedford. Image courtesy of Cat Lane

Through The Culture Challenge, we aim to provide the young people of our region with the opportunity to engage with a range of activities across the cultural sector, be they creating with local artists or exploring their local heritage through our museums. This survey shows the very real impact visiting these cultural institutions can have throughout a person’s life, and we encourage you to take a look at our History and Heritage Cultural Providers to see what might be possible for your school to enrich the curriculum in 2019.