Young Makers Reimagine a Piece of Kelham Island Museum…

Young people have recently taken part in a project that aims to provide experience with museum curation and interpretation. Run by Sheffield Museums Trust in partnership with Ignite Yorkshire, the Young Makers work experience programme saw a group of 14-25 year olds create, collaborate, and curate an exhibit for Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield centred around a de-commissioned telephone box.


The Young Makers were tasked with creating an exhibit that utilised an old telephone box outside the entrance to Kelham Island Museum. For ten weeks, the group independently formed a proposal for what the phone box could be repurposed for to benefit the museum.

From the get-go, the group stepped away from simply restoring the phone box and instead took a more innovative approach. Early concepts for this exhibit focused on utilising modern technology to make a small space seem larger. There was also a heavy focus on the community and heritage within and around Sheffield. These ideas were so prevalent, they were sustained and developed for the final proposal.


Whilst the concepts and ideas formed for the exhibition were entirely youth-led, Sheffield Museums Trust staff arranged a multitude of guest speakers to promote deeper thinking into exhibition proposals and to teach new skills. An oral historian gave a presentation on the importance of oral history and how it is utilised within museums. Participants were then taught how to conduct oral interviews with each other to fully understand oral history’s impact and how it could be introduced into the phone box exhibit. The group found this session particularly impactful, as oral history tied into their original idea of community and heritage. It went on to be a feature of the final idea. Additional guest speakers delivered presentations and activities on engaging audiences, marketing, and graphic design.


The Young Makers’ proposal was finalised in the last few weeks. The group worked extremely well with each other, making sure to listen and take everyone’s concepts into account. The final concept developed into a rotating exhibit featured in and around the telephone box, showcasing three themes: Industry, Nature, and People. Current technology was integrated into the phone box design, with the proposal of a large interactive screen sitting in the doorway of the box, in addition to using QR codes to allow wider interaction.

The exhibition proposal was pitched to a panel of Sheffield Museums Trust staff via Zoom, in which the Young Makers presented their idea, graphics for marketing and design, and considerations of safety and accessibility. It is no boast to say that the presentation was a resounding success!

Authored by Eleanor Chesterton, participant in the Young Makers project