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What is Challenging History?

June 15, 2015

Challenging History is a manifesto for change in the way museums and heritage sites engage with contentious and sensitive histories. It is, at once, a community of like-minded individuals,a  forum for discussion, a programme of ongoing professional development for practitioners and an advocate for change in the way our audiences engage with our shared history.

It originated in 2009 and continues to explore the role, aims and outcomes of heritage and museum learning programmes in relation to difficult and controversial subjects.

What is the manifesto?

The Challenging History network operates with the following (emergent) manifesto in mind:

The museum and heritage sector has an important role to play covering contentious issues in their spaces and programmes, and must do this work to stay relevant to our audiences.

We will:

  • Acknowledge history is complicated and that we need to take risks in delivering it.
  • Build our confidence in delivering contentious issues by creating a process, supported by peer review, for sector staff to develop their expertise.
  • Recognise successful practice and agree what produces quality programmes.
  • Create a forum for dialogue across the sector and beyond, about best practice.
  • Facilitate conversations at subject and audience level online and in person. Support mentoring and develop skills profiles. Advocate for this work across the sector and beyond.
  • Conduct rigorous evaluation and research of delivery of contentious history in museums and heritage sites, how it works and what it does.
  • Coordinate a central programme of pilot projects, evaluations, case studies and body of evidence, Identify and track the training offer.
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