A Chat with Manda Graham, Founder at Creative Activity Programme: The Curiosity Museum

The Curiosity Museum began as a touring, school careers workshop for students aged 10+. Beginning with a museum of curious objects, it leads participants through a fun process of discovery, uncovering their skills and interests to create a personalised employability action plan.

We believe creativity has the power to change the world. The idea came from a desire to help young people navigate the complicated world after school. Our approach is unique as it begins by focusing on the student, not the job: we help them find out who they are, what makes them curious, what makes them different and so on.

By taking part in range of creative activities and exploring our Museum of Curious Objects they are supported to better understand themselves, providing a strong foundation from which to explore potential life and job opportunities.

Curiosity Museum – Supporting arts organisations and creatives to thrive

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The Curiosity Museum grew out of a challenge commissioned by the University of Worcester to engage young people in rural areas, where many students were not thinking outside the sphere of what their parents did when it came to future careers.

We believe that by adopting a creative approach – being playful and having fun – you come up with more interesting, innovative ideas. The Curiosity Museum achieves this, helping students really get to know themselves, educating and empowering them to help them understand where they want to go in life.

How did the pandemic affect the business?

The pandemic had a massive impact on our business, forcing us to change our approach, which is where technology comes in.

As we launched The Curiosity Museum in schools in February 2020, Covid arrived, causing us to put our live workshops on hold. After a brief pause, Arts Council England Emergency Fund allowed us to make the most of the situation by exploring how to create a virtual Curiosity Museum. We are now developing this further with the support of Worcestershire technology accelerator BetaDen.

Transferring live workshops into a digital space means there are no geographical boundaries; students can enjoy repeat visits and really explore the space, using different tools to playfully extend their understanding of themselves, careers and skills.

We are now exploring how digital can become a larger part of our offer and help us reach a wider variety of students. We are working on a new strand to improve accessibility and engage those who are not supported through traditional careers approaches; Students in pupil referral units, for instance, typically may have lost their ability to dream about future possibilities, restricting their future plans. The digital Curiosity Museum creates a nurturing space for self-discovery that allows them to navigate their own route through the programme, improving engagement and outcomes.

What does the future hold for The Curiosity Museum?

We are currently recruiting beta testers for the digital Curiosity Museum, with a view to formally launching next year.

Discovering more about the digital and technology worlds has given us a new way of working and we are excited by the potential that combining live and digital formats offers to bring our creative approach to a much bigger audience.


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