Institute of Archaeology


Family Stories Project

Increasingly, the main focus of research conducted in museums looks at families from an institutional perspective. Yet, the family as an institution and the ways in which it interacts with, adapts to, shapes and chooses to use other institutions have not been fully acknowledged, nor have the cultural patterns and practices of families that come from non-dominant communities, which shape families and provide an important recourse for learning across settings.

Using a participatory approach to research, this study looks at how and why families from different cultural backgrounds access a range of educational organisations/environments and ‘use’ people, objects and other resources available to them.

  • What role do these organisations play in family life?
  • How do family members use them to understand the social and physical world around them and to build individual and group identities?
  • And how their existing and evolving identity is shaped by these choices?

This study looks at family stories - as a way of understanding the meaning they make of their social and physical world – and identity: the background characteristics & family history, interests, attitudes, beliefs, values, motivations and prior experiences & knowledge. The assumption is that family stories (filtered through their socio-cultural identities) reveal the values, aspirations and beliefs of the family unit and determine the choices as to which organisations/environments will be used by its members.

This is an ongoing research study in collaboration with a Camden-based community nursery and local families.

Related outputs

  • This study will contribute to the writing of a book on families and museums to be produced in 2011-12.
  • The project partners are in the process of reviewing their family provision and communication with families.
  • Two family evening workshops were held where families and nursery study discussed the findings and future directions.


  • Part funding by Project Partners
  • Other funding sources