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sensing inheritance


This collaborative project focused on the question of what it feels like for
young people to inherit a world typified by climatic, social, and biopolitical crisis, a research initiative that we called Inheriting the Anthropocene. The project sought to engage critically with the Anthropocene as a particular conceptual,
material, and affective figuration of the current epoch, focusing on how the epoch is being sensed and felt by young people, and simultaneously, how museum spaces might be differently experienced and imagined. We sent out an open call for young people (ages 11–14) to join the Young Adventurers research team through the Museum’s network, social media, and flyers distributed across the city of Manchester. Our call was specifically phrased as an invitation for young “movers, shakers, makers, hackers, activists, and dreamers” interested in disrupting and re-imagining what a museum could be.​

Over the course of this project, decolonial concerns came increasingly to the fore as we explored the complexity of young people’s encounters with the museum’s galleries, collections, and store rooms containing more than 4.5 million objects, the vast majority of which are never seen by the public. Working in collaboration with our research team and curators from Manchester Museum, the Young Adventurers created their own series of installations and interventions in the museum reflecting their critical concerns about climate change, decolonisation, and the universalism of Western knowledge. These works were shown in the Inheriting the Anthropocene exhibition at Manchester Museum in 2019-2020, and included:  
A Cabinet of Curiosities bringing together strange (even monstrous) assemblages of museological things and ideas evoking the uncertainty of young people’s lives
in the Anthropocene;

A wearable Coat of Curiosities stuffed with everyday found objects collected by the Young Adventurers;

the Bureau of Unanswerable Questions, containing hundreds of questions raised by young people in the museum;

Scenes From Behind, a 360 video installation revealing parts of the museum usually restricted to the public;

Sounding Inheritance,
which allowed audiences to remix the sounds of the
museum recorded by young people; and 

the Blotwalk, consisting of 28 inkblots on paper and an accompanying map which marked zones of colonial appropriation and exclusion across all levels of
the museum’s public display areas


David Rousell (Manifold Lab, MMU)
Riikka Hohti (Manifold Lab, MMU)
Maggie MacLure (Manifold Lab, MMU)

Hannah-Lee Chalk (Manchester Museum)
Young Adventurers (ages 9-13)
Trinity College Kids (age 12-15) 


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