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Heather Norman Soderlind, Head of Public & Regional Marketing, British Library

Case Studies

Client Issue
British Library Front End and Formative Evaluation of a new exhibition and online programme at the British Library
The British Library is developing an Exhibition entitled ‘Taking Liberties: The Struggle for Britain’s Freedom & Rights’. The exhibition aims, through the interpretation of 900 years of British history and iconic documents, to improve visitors’ awareness of political rights and responsibilities in British society today, encourage debate about the contestability of rights and foster social and political engagement. The visitor is invited to take a personal journey back in time and to answer questions constructed around issues of rights on various themes – questions relating to current affairs and issues that concern us today.

The exhibition is set within a context where issues of cohesion, diversity and identity have moved to the centre of public debate. There is confusion over what Britishness is and how confidently Britain can explain itself and its place in the world. The exhibition will set the context for a forthcoming public consultation led by the Ministry of Justice on devising a ‘British set of values’, a new ‘Bill of Rights’ and a possible written British constitution.

In March 2007 we carried out front end evaluation which found that although there were low levels of historical awareness there was an interest in the idea of an exhibition especially if its focus was on personal struggle.

In March 2008 we were commissioned to carry out a formative evaluation of the proposed exhibition to test ideas for the visitor experience including a learning programme for teachers and students.

The consultation involved workshops with teachers, young adults, and adults of BME, Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish origin. During the course of the workshops, respondents were taken on an imaginary journey using a mix of audio commentary, visuals, word and mood boards.

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