When we set out to reinvent our Roman gallery through the eyes of young Londoners we knew we had an interesting journey ahead of us. Our original challenge was to ensure young people would be with us for the duration of that journey. This was where Junction youth panel was born. Junction has been a continuum through the exhibition; young people can be involved for as little or as long as they want. I have experienced just how committed and loyal they are when they are taken seriously as team members and joint decision makers. This is why many members have been some of my favourite colleagues for over two years!
One of the most interesting things about developing and creating an exhibition with young people is that is allows you to look at the world in which you work in a totally different way. We often need to change from the standard way of doing something to make sure our young curators were properly involved. The responsibility they had was great and it was vital to provide them with the right support and training beforehand. Some of the installations include modern objects placed next to Roman artefacts to question similarities and differences between then and now. This wasn't a simple listing activity. Junction spent time with staff to learn about any conservation considerations and spent a week with an artist to encourage them to think more creatively.
Quite rightly, our young curators want to be seen as part of the Museum team. This came to light when we wrote all the captions. We discussed the possibility of them pushing the boundaries of how captions are written. We expected that they may be up for doing something really unusual with the style or tone. However, they wanted their captions to stick fairly closely to our standard style. The most important thing to them is that they are considered real curators by visitors.
Finally, working with young people has made me appreciate just how lucky I am to have a job here. Taking part in projects like this is a brilliant way for young people to gain a range of skills - including events management, writing blogs, research, creativity, team working and public speaking. These are transferrable to a whole host of careers and this is very important for this generation. There may not be many jobs in museums, but we can play role in providing experiences that can help them create successful futures for in other sectors. In turn, Junction and all the other young people who have created the installations which feature in the exhibition give is an important new interpretation of this city's past - and present.
Our Londnium 2012 is free and open now. www.museumoflondon.org.uk