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 250 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.
Modelled on the National Gallery, London’s, Take One Picture, the project focuses on one painting, Cupid and Psyche by Jacopo del Sellaio, as a source of ideas and inspiration for further creative and cross-curricular enquiry.