The Project

You want to know what this blog is about?

Well, in October 2012 London’s Museum of Childhood is going to open a landmark exhibition about the changing lives of children in Britain, from 1948 onwards.

The exhibition is built around a series of evocative toys and everyday objects – from war-time ration books and a Sindy doll to a La La Tellytubby and a Primark girl’s bra.

We got wind of this brilliant idea and asked the museum if we could get involved. Some creative writing inspired by the objects in the exhibition might give people an interesting new slant on childhood, we thought.

The museum agreed, and 26 Treasures of Childhood was born.

But it’s not that easy

We didn’t want to simply get a bunch of writers together with a brief to tell us about their childhoods. No. We made it a bit more difficult for them, believing as we do that constraints spark creativity.

We chose 26 writers, paired each of them with an item from the exhibition, and gave them this simple instruction: use your object as inspiration to write 62 perfectly selected words, then put them all in the right order.

Don’t give us a simple account of what the object is, we said – the museum curators will do a brilliant job of that . Instead, reflect on your childhood treasure, listen to it, research it if you feel that way inclined, stroke and sniff it (if the museum lets you). Think about how it connects to you and your childhood.  Dig into your emotions, rummage in your memories, see what you come up with. And then write your 62 words.

The 62 words can be in any form. Fact or fiction. Poetry or prose. It doesn’t have to be about the object, just inspired by it. And off they went…

Having laid down such a daunting creative challenge, we thought we ought to blog about the process.

This is the blog.

Have we done anything like this before?

Well, yes we have. The writers on this project haven’t worked as a team before. But our organisation – 26.org.uk – has run very successful “26 Treasures” exhibitions with the Victoria & Albert MuseumThe National Museums of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, and the Ulster Museum.

These projects produced some incredible and inspiring work – so the pressure is on.

You can read more about them here.

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