Brooklands Museum is the home of the world's first racetrack which opened in June 1907. At that time motor engineering was in its infancy and designers wanted a place where they could experiment and innnovate with this exciting new technology. Incredibly, in February 1913, driver Percy Lambert reached a speed of 103.84mph on the track - if you've ever seen a classic car from that era you'll be as amazed as I am that they were capable of those kinds of speeds. A community of racing specialists grew up around Brooklands, which became a hub of innovation in the field of motor racing and later aircraft design and manufacture. Dam buster Barnes Wallis, inventor of the 'Bouncing Bomb', was based there during the Second World War, designing military aircraft for Armstrong-Vickers including the Wellington bomber. The last Wellington bomber to see active service (pictured above) is on display in the Aircraft Factory at Brooklands Museum.
Brooklands commissioned me to work with them on a review of the museum's learning programme. The museum has an incredible collection that tells stories of human innovation and endeavour in the fields of science and engineering and wanted to put this at the heart of its programme for schools. As with many independent museums, financial sustainability is a constant challenge and the museum leadership team wanted to maximise the impact of its learning offer. This was partly to generate revenue but primarily rooted in the understanding that being able to demonstrate impact against a compelling mission supports fundraising, sponsorship, and meaningful partnerships.
During the spring and summer of 2021 I worked with the museum to review its existing offer, consult with teachers, board members, staff, volunteers and partner organisations, research curriculum links and development opportunities, and develop a strategy for reshaping its learning programme over the next two years to build audiences, develop partnerships, and make the most of its unique stories and collections. I liaised with consultants working on the museum's audience development plan and worked with the museum's Executive Director of Operations, Engagement & Heritage to ensure the new learning strategy supported and drew on the museum's interpretation master plan. I also made recommendations for reshaping the staff team and securing additional funding.
I managed to visit the museum during the interval between lockdowns and was able to fulfil a childhood dream of going on Concorde - sadly not for a flight these days, but having seen the iconic plane during my childhood and heard the sonic boom as it headed for Leeds Bradford Airport, the opportunity to climb aboard the last flying Concorde at Brooklands Museum felt like a real privilege.