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Ways of Seeing: Inspire 2020

The Inspire exhibition (December 2019- March 2020) was the culmination of a multi- disciplinary practitioner- led research project exploring explored how museum and artist led teacher training programmes might support art and design teaching in primary schools. It was the first exhibition of work made by primary school children at The Fitzwilliam Museum in its 200 year history and was designed in partnership with AccessArt. Inspire celebrates the creativity of local schools and teachers at a time where there has been a significant decline in art specialist staff and training in schools. 

The project involved 68 teachers from 40 primary schools who were introduced to a Renaissance panel painting of Cupid and Psyche in a series of training sessions at the museum in early 2019. Schools were then invited to submit work to the end of project exhibition. More than 500 children aged between 4 and 11 visited the museum to look at the painting and more than 3800 studied it at school using specially created digital learning resources. Alongside the teacher training programme, we also carried out cutting-edge technical research on medieval pigments in the painting using non-invasive analytical protocols and X-ray and Infrared Reflectography (IR) scans to explore the structure of the panel and show revisions in the under-drawing. A collaboration with the Department of History of Art led to the creation of an AR App designed in partnership with developer Maggioli Musei and Giovanni Pescarmona from the University of Florence. This new research and resulting app formed part of the final exhibition which was co-curated by a multi-disciplinary team of museum professionals and artists. The exhibition had 33410 visitors and demonstrated the potential of regional communities of practice to bring together artists, teachers and art museum professionals to develop public understanding of medieval art techniques and processes and to support the development of visual literacy.

The Inspire Exhibition was funded by The Marlay Group

Project information

Related publications

Noble, K (2021) ‘“Getting hands on with other creative minds”: Establishing a community of practice around primary art and design in the art museum’, International Journal of Art and Design Education, 40(3), p. n-n. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jade.12371

Noble, K (2020) Inspire Exhibition and Project Report, The Fitzwilliam Museum

Noble, K (2020) Inspire: A celebration of children's art in response to Jacopo del Sellaio's Cupid and Psyche, Exhibition Booklet, The Fitzwilliam Museum

Morrison, H., Noble, K. and Villis, S. (2020) Inspire: A celebration of children’s art. 31 January 2020. University of Cambridge Museums. Blog Post

Cooper, D. and Noble, K. (2020). Schoolchildren, science and smartphones shine new light on a Florentine masterpiece. Apollo, 6 April 2020 (published online only and not assigned to an issue).

Ceccarelli, S. (2019) Cupid and Psyche: how a fifteenth-century Renaissance panel became the most loved painting in Cambridgeshire. AccessArt. Blog Post

Noble, K. (2016). Picture thinking: The development of visual literacy in young children. Engage, 38 (Special issue on visual literacy), pp. 40-51. 

Project team

Exhibition Team

Kate Noble, Sheila Ceccerelli and Paula Briggs (AccessArt)

Miranda Stearn, Holly Morrison and Sarah Villis

David Evans and Erica Emond

Paola Ricciardi and staff and students from HKI

Ways of Seeing AR Project

Daniel Pett, Donal Cooper (History of Art), Giovanni Pescarmona (University of Florence), Paola Ricciardi, Victoria Sutcliffe and Chris Titmus

Funders and partners

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