The Significance of the Centenary

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Languages Cultures Art History & Music

Abstract

This project examines what makes a centenary commemoration different to any other. The timeliness and significance of this question is evidenced by the current and forthcoming centenaries which are the focus of the research. From the recent commemoration of suffrage, revolution and the sinking of the Titanic, to the world-wide events of the First World War, this project places contemporary centenary events in the context of historical celebrations and commemorations in order to interrogate exactly who is now remembering for whom, and how.

Calls for centennial commemoration and celebration are often met by claims that the time for such activity has passed - particularly as there are no longer any living witnesses - and claims that it is more appropriate to focus on the present and future. Yet, these events continue to have significance for the families and communities involved. As those tasked with caring for the future, museums and heritage sites are at the centre of negotiating these controversial, and very public, issues. This timely, interdisciplinary, cross-sector project works to contextualise, compare and convey the significance of the centenary and to support museums and heritage sites to embed robust ways of negotiating these commemorations.

The proposal will bring together academics, early career researchers, doctoral students, curators, and educators to work in a genuinely interdisciplinary way. The diversity of expertise within the network will facilitate a focus on different cultural conceptions and manifestations of centenary activity. The findings will be of significance for museum and heritage site professionals and educators across the sectors.

The project will involve four workshops at the University of Birmingham, the University of Sheffield, the Historic Royal Palaces Tower of London, and Cardiff University. These meetings will be structured to promote dialogue, collaboration and progression of the fields. The project steering group will maintain a website and blog throughout its duration to strengthen the exchange of ideas, report back on the workshops, maintain the impetus beyond the life of the initial project, and attract interest more widely from the constituencies of the members. In addition to the website and blog, the steering group will disseminate results via a film, a conference paper, and a co-authored article.

Planned Impact

1. Museum and Heritage Site Professionals:
One aspiration is that the project will feed into and hopefully influence current practice through dissemination within the professional sector. There are many active networks within the field of heritage interpretation and education who would be interested in the results of the research. Museum and heritage site professionals within the Museums Association, the Social History Curators' Group, the Group for Education in Museums, the Historical Association, the International Museum Theatre Alliance, the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience, and The International Council of Museums, Committee For Education and Cultural Action will be informed of the outcomes of the network via the website, blog and existing email lists. Increasing awareness, building confidence and providing knowledge exchange about centennial commemorations may play an important contribution within this sector.

2. Policy Makers:
Steering Committee member, Sam Cairns, manages the Cultural Learning Alliance with 8,000 members, drawing together key evidence, expertise and critical mass to influence policy makers in the Department for Education and Department of Culture, Media, and Sport. Given the significant investment of time and public funds into centennial activities, the insights generated by this project may help to highlight and navigate some of the ethical, political and social issues raised by centennial commemoration and/or celebration.

3. Educational programmers:
Findings of the research will be incredibly useful for helping educators (in museums and in formal education outlets) think about and deal with issues of centenary commemoration within education programmes. Such issues are at the heart of questions of identity and community. Centennial celebrations can play an important role in regional, national and transnational cohesion and well-being but they can also prove divisive and contentious. Highlighting divergent expectations and purposes of such celebrations for different groups will be a key element of this project.

The focus of this project is, by its very nature, wide in its temporal scope: it casts its gaze on events from long ago but at the same time there are immediate and continuing opportunities to see the impact of the project on current centenial activity and on work for the immediate and more distant future.
 
Title Animated Film: Commemorating the Centenary of the Great War 
Description Explorer Manager at Historic Royal Palaces, Alex Drago, worked with schoolteachers Rocky Haines and Phillipa Prince and animators John Harmer and Shelly Wain to create a film on remembrance of the First World War. The drawings and words were produced by the students of The Grey Coat Hospital (Gwyneth Tambe-Green, Isabelle Parker, Isobel Gotobed, Imogen Edwards, Rosa Mylne, Martha Button, Sophie Ikonyak, Florence Marling and Tara Baukovic). 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The film was shown in all classes at the Grey Coat School on 11 November 2013 and to a special showing for the parents of the school children involved in its production. The film was also shown at the launch of the AHRC-funded WWI Engagement Centre 'Voices of War and Peace' and resulted in requests for copies of the film by members of the audience to show at local groups and schools. Further work remains to be done on the impact of the showings at these venues. 
URL http://www.voicesofwarandpeace.org/2014/04/01/commemorating-film/
 
Title With New Eyes I See 
Description With New Eyes... explores whether documentary can become an experience or a journey beyond the screen. The partnership between Cardiff-based academic Jenny Kidd and creative marketing agency yello brick, researched a site specific documentary using torches, projection and RFID to trigger content as participants walked around Cathays Park in Cardiff. The aim was to test the user value of empathetic engagement within a locative, pervasive and social documentary experience, with an emphasis on avoiding 'empty empathy' (Kaplin 2011) or, conversely, the 'empathy paradox' (Jackson & Kidd 2008, 2011). 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Continued collaboration with the creative enterprise (yello brick) and academic. Partnership building between academic, creative enterprise and National Museum Wales. There will be at least one published output from the project. The production was 'staged' at the Museums Association conference 2014 in Cardiff. 
URL http://www.react-hub.org.uk/with-new-eyes/
 
Description The significant achievements: 1. The interdisciplinary group of 27 academics and museum and heritage site practitioners developed a framework for investigating centenary events. 2. The project led to two successful funding bids to the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham for undergraduate research projects associated with the network, one to create a 'History Pin' project and one to carry out visitor response surveys of the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' ('Poppy Exhibition') at the Tower of London (analysis ongoing). 3. The blog has had 2,686 views since the launch, from 42 countries. This blog was set up as a discussion forum for participants in the network as opposed to an outward facing driver to content and the network's activities. 4. The embedding of the key research questions into a national educational programme run by Historic Royal Palaces (see impact narrative).
Exploitation Route There is still much work to be done on the role of centenaries in popular culture and how we measure their significance. The ongoing work relating to the WWI commemorations will allow researchers to investigate the legacy of such high profile events
Sectors Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://thecentenary.wordpress.com/
 
Description The learning programme for the First World War centenary at Historic Royal Palaces has arisen out of the 'Significance of the Centenary' network. The Explorer Manager, Alex Drago, created a campaign called 'Why Remember?' inspired by three questions from the project (Why should we remember? Why is 100 years so significant? And, how would you like to remember?), and which has been embedded in all HRP's offers and across audiences. The purpose of the campaign is to transform understanding of First World War by encouraging everyone to engage in more meaningful discussion about remembrance. It includes: 1. UNCOVER (ADULT LEARNING) TALKS AND WORKSHOPS: (i) 'Curious connections: spies' (58 delegates); (ii) 'Curious connections: war and friendship' (46 delegates); (iii) 'War declared: the Tower and the First World War '(24 delegates). 2. UNCOVER COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: Blackfriars residential home reminiscence work (80 delegates). 3. EXPLORER (CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE): INFORMAL: (i) 10,000 Soldier's Small Book - a family trail - printed and distributed between Aug 4th - Nov 11th; (ii) 2,500 contacts during half-term covering a range of activities including object handling, story-telling, costumed-interpretation; (iii) Echoes & Traces: The Tower at War, performances by Arcola Youth Theatre took place at the Tower of London on Nov 4th in a site-specific performance based on real-life people who lived or worked at the Tower during the First World War. 500 Estimated contacts. FORMAL: (i) Partnership with Discovery Education who broadcast a national assembly from the Tower of London on Nov 10th with content based around the Why Remember? questions. It featured poetry originally written by students for the Commemorating the Centenary of the Great War film from Grey Coat Hospital School. Discovery marketed this to all schools in the UK, USA, and Canada and it was broadcast free online at http://www.discoveryeducationuk.com/remembrance. 850,000 pupils watched the assembly. Two teacher CPD webinars were broadcast before and after which together reached approximately 500 teachers; (ii) Why Remember? schools campaign and fundraising day. Resources available online and CPD delivered. 100,000 people are involved in the fundraising campaign. It is not yet possible to estimate how much will be raised for the six service charities; (iii) Two animation projects with Pakeman and Mayflower Primary, numbering around 500 contacts and the output of two short movies. Mayflower was previously known as Upper North Street School and was the first known civilian air raid casualty in the world. German planes dropped bombs on the school on 13th June 1917 and 18 students were killed; (iv) 1,000 teacher guides to the poppies and the First World War at the Tower distributed by Nov 11th. DIGITAL: (i) #whyremember campaign has reached approx 100,000 people. We asked people to respond to the three questions and send us their photos; (ii) Both Curious connections talks have been recorded and will end up on our iTunesU account. Numbers of downloads are difficult to estimate. Probably around 1,000 each over the next 12 months. ATTITUDINAL ANALYSIS: (i) Physical and online survey to encourage everyone to communicate their responses to the three questions with a long-term view to doing some attitudinal analysis revealing a snapshot of our attitudes to the FWW during the centenary year. Estimated responses around 2,000. The education and learning programme developed at HRP on the basis of the network was instrumental in the successful award of IRO status in 2015. The steering group member who is the liaison point at HRP has recently (2018) been awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship to continue the analysis of data collection and to work with the PI and CI on an end of centenary event under the auspices of the AHRC WWI Engagement Centre. This will impact upon her career development and strengthen the working relationship between the academic and heritage sectors. We have since used the 'Why Remember?' learning programme to do visitor research at all the sites of the travelling poppy exhibitions. The PI has also used the 'Why Remember?' questions when liaising with community groups writing Heritage Lottery Fund bids related to the centenary of the First World War.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Arts Enterprise Bid
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 09/2014
 
Description CUROP
Amount £1,600 (GBP)
Organisation Cardiff University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 09/2016
 
Description ESRC
Amount £22,900 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 11/2016
 
Description Impact Acceleration Award scheme
Amount £3,200 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2015 
End 07/2016
 
Description REACT (Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology)
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2013 
End 12/2013
 
Description Undergraduate Summer Research Project
Amount £1,210 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description Undergraduate Summer Research Project
Amount £1,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 07/2016
 
Description Undergraduate Summer Research Project
Amount £1,175 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2014 
End 08/2014
 
Description University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Impact Acceleration Award
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 07/2016
 
Description Connected Communities Event, Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Showing of animated film prompted discussion.

None at present.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Discussion with Mary-Anne Geary, Department of Business Innovation and Skills 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact Discussion about effect of Government funding for AHRC on research priorities.

Increased network of governmental contacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Museums and Heritage Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The presentation prompted an interesting discussion and several requests for information about the network.

It is still too soon to judge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.museumsandheritage.com/show/visiting/free-talks/learning
 
Description Re-Imagining Challenging History conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This conference, jointly hosted by Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales and Cardiff University, explored how cultural practitioners are working in innovative and responsive ways with difficult and sensitive heritages/themes. This is a time of unprecedented change, pressure and evolution for museums and their continued investment of resources in this area is not assured. The conference directly addressed those contexts, and suggested imaginative responses to them, helping delegates to explore why and how challenging histories maintain their relevance.

The conference programme included keynotes from:

David Anderson, Director General Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, on 'Avoiding Challenging History'

Samantha Heywood, Director, Museum of World War II, Boston on 'The challenges of challenging history in the 'real' world'

Stephen Bourne, Scholar and Writer, on 'Black Poppies'

David Gunn, Artist/Producer, on 'Museums of Lies and Secrets'

It also included a performance from electro-folk storytellers 'Harp and A Monkey', a performance of 'Graveyard Voices', a number of off-site sessions and tours, two drinks receptions, and a three-course meal at Cardiff Prison. There were a range of high quality papers, panels and workshops, and pportunities to network and exchange in a 'campfire session' and a 'failure cafe'.

The conference was invited to be a part of the Wales Festival of Innovation.

Questions we explored included

* Is it appropriate to re-imagine the role of museums and museum professionals as activists or as civil society mediators?
* How does our understanding of 'impact' in museums (and Universities also) frame what kind of work with challenging history is deemed viable?
* Do museums' current methodologies need re-imagining?
* How are online-only museums free to imagine their work with challenging histories differently?
* Is there a role for gaming, play and mischief-making in work with difficult and sensitive subject matters?
* What is the role of academic research in re-imagining well-known challenging topics?
* How does all of this link into wider discussions about museums' survival in 2016 and beyond?

The conference was sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council World War One Engagement Centre: Voices of War and Peace http://www.voicesofwarandpeace.org/. Debates about Challenging History are currently being framed against the backdrop of this very high profile and ongoing commemoration. A strand of the conference was therefore dedicated to papers that focused on the lessons that can be learned from dealing with this topic, including the ways in which it informs, challenges or intersects with other histories.

Conference sub-themes included:

*Re-imagining commemoration: WW1 and beyond
*Re-imagining space for challenging history
*Re-imagining participation | experience | engagement
*Re-imagining authenticity
*Re-imagining digital
*Re-imagining the political dimensions of museums' work
*Re-imagining relationships | audiences | visitors
*Re-imagining empathy
*Re-imagining silence
*Re-imagining value
*Re-imagining social justice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://challenginghistorynetwork.wordpress.com/2016-conference/
 
Description Sheffield 1914: Lives and Headlines 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Engagement activity resulted in ongoing archival work and reports in Sheffield Star newspaper.

The success of the project has led to its continuation by MA students beyond the duration of the funding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/artsenterprise/projects#LivesandHeadlines
 
Description Sheffield History Panel and Debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The audience members became engaged in the Twitter 'Pity of War' debates.

Increased participation in social media debate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires - Caernarfon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at Caernarfon Castle
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires - Lincoln 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at Lincoln Castle
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires - Orkney 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires - Perth 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at the Black Watch Museum, Perth
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires: Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at St Georges Hall, Liverpool
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires: Woodhorn Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at Woodhorn Museum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Visitor Survey Questionnaires: Yorkshire Sculpture Park 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A large quantity of qualitative data was gathered on people's responses to the travelling poppy exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Voices of War and Peace Launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The expert panel gave brief overviews of the work of the Centre and plans for the local Centenary commemorations. The showing of the animated film as part of the section on 'Commemoration' prompted response and discussion.

St Paul's school for Girls requested a copy of the film for use in the classroom.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.voicesofwarandpeace.org/2014/04/01/commemorating-film/
 
Description WWI Day Weston Park: Museums Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The public brought in objects related to WWI and the team member facilitated oral history recordings.

The oral history recordings prompted discussion and debate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop: Centenaries in Pratice (Tower of London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The workshop allowed us to turn our attention to the commemoration of WWI within a UK and European context.

The hosting of this event at the Tower of London ultimately fed into the WWI programme that was developed there (see impact case study).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://thecentenary.wordpress.com/blog/
 
Description Workshop: Comfortable Commemoration? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact We gained an understanding of the historic significance of centenary commemoration in different historical and geographical contexts.

We developed a way of shaping the work of the network during and beyond the duration of the grant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://thecentenary.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/responses-to-workshop-one/#comments
 
Description Workshop: Comparative Centenaries 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact We discussed and developed a provisional framework for investigating centenary events.

The invitations to external speakers to present practical case studies (on 400th anniversary of King James Bible and 'Galvanise Sheffield') provided further links and contacts to those beyond the network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://thecentenary.wordpress.com/blog/page/2/
 
Description Workshop: Conveying the Significance of the Centenary 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The steering group presented the results of their work and we had feedback on what we had achieved so far.

We developed an idea for a workshop/CPD day on the measurability of impact and the legacy of centenary events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://thecentenary.wordpress.com/blog/