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Stories of the World reverberate around Britain for 2012

From Brighton to Edinburgh, museums across Britain are preparing to welcome more than two and a half million visitors to Stories of the World projects, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. 

Led by the MLA in partnership with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Stories of the World is already beating records and promises to be an unprecedented exploration of our past.

Hosted in 60 museums across 35 towns and cities, a series of 300 innovative exhibitions and events are being designed and created with the largest number of young people ever to have worked behind the scenes at museums.

Over 12,000 young people have already participated in museum workshops and activities and over 1000 young curators enlisted to help shape the final exhibitions in 2011 and 2012.

Rarely seen objects will be brought out from the stores, and collections will be looked at afresh, to better understand the stories behind Britain’s and its people’s place in the world - presented through storytelling, music, performances in public spaces, debates, creative workshops and weekend family activities. International loans will help bring world class collections to towns and cities in the UK.

Andrew Motion, MLA Chair said:

"By working directly with collections in museums, which have been acquired from thousands of years of travel, trade, migration, and human struggle – good, bad, controversial, heroic - thousands of young people will fittingly remember the international celebration that is the Olympics.  Stories of the World will help spread the London 2012 celebrations across England and Scotland in a fun but thought provoking way that will bring better understanding and longer term benefits to the museums and communities involved."

A young participant from Barnsley, said:

"I feel honoured and happy to be a part of it all. The freedom young people have been given for this project is amazing, from interviewing artists to discussing what we should do next. And this isn't even half of it. When I think of Stories of the World I think of something amazing and beneficial to our communities."

The sixty participating museums are grouped together in eight projects:

Brighton: Local Global
How are cultures transformed in a globalised world? Brighton Museum’s collections from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas are being brought to life in the new permanent Stories of the World gallery, developed in partnership with 32 young curators.

East of England: Eastern Exchanges
The East of England is developing new links with the East of the globe by exchanging people, collections and art with China, India and Pakistan. Highlights include exchange visits by young people, artists’ residencies, and two major loan exhibitions from China, as well as turning a Pakistani taxi van into a mobile museum. The project is led by four museums, and works with over 80 young curators.

Edinburgh: Sounds Global
The National Museums of Scotland will bring its world instrument masks and performance costume collections to life by working with 50 young curators to create artistic and musical responses in a special exhibition space. The project will include workshops, performances and events at the museum and in key locations across Scotland.

London: World City
Since Roman times, London has been shaped by people and cultures from across the globe. This project, which works with 115 young curators across London, will explore four aspects of life in this genuine world city: identity, journeys, home and place. In total, 23 museums across London are involved with activities such as film-making, photography, fashion video diaries, garden design and pottery.

North East: Journeys of Discovery
Captain Cook, the North East's most famous sea-faring son, visited six of the seven continents during his lifetime, charting lands and people previously unknown to Europe. In Cook's spirit, 185 young curators are travelling through the region's collections and meeting young people, artists and craft workers from across the globe. They will take the collections out of the museums through annual street and circus festivals.

North West: Global Threads
The North West's Stories of the World project will take a radical look at the context of the region's outstanding heritage of textiles and cotton mills. With a clear focus on young people, they will work with the museums to develop a series of exhibitions and events during 2011-12. In total, 400 young people are acting as curators, event organisers, digital journalists, photographers, and film-makers – aspiring to engage new audiences with northwest museums and galleries.

Yorkshire: Precious Cargo
In this project, museum collections are 'precious cargo' that have made their way across the world, carrying ideas and stories to become important parts of our heritage and culture. A total of 15 museums are working with 100 young curators to present a wide range of world collections – including a collection of ‘charms’ in Scarborough, textiles and a gorilla in Leeds and Bradford, Roman collections in York and plant collections in Barnsley.

East Midlands: Dress the World
Celebrating the global influences that shape fashion, 50 young curators will work with some of the incredible fashion collections in three of the East Midlands’ major museums. They will create new designs, put on fashion shows and be trained as journalists.  

To find out more about Stories of the World, visit

Notes to editors

1. The strategic lead for Stories of the World programme is lilkely to transfer to Arts Council England over the next year, as part of MLA’s transition. Funding for Stories of the World has been secured from a range of sources including Renaissance in the Regions, HLF, ACE, charitable trusts and foundations and the museums’ own core resources

2. About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival - The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements.  Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

Since the Cultural Olympiad started in 2008 11.2million people from across the UK have participated in or attended public performances as part of the Cultural Olympiad and programmes inspired by 2012 and funded by our principle funders and sponsors. Over 67,000 people have attended 6,800 workshops as part of Cultural Olympiad programmes.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival from 21 June - 9 September 2012. Leading artists from all over the world will come together for a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, film and digital innovation, and leave a lasting legacy for the arts in the UK.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. 

BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

The British Council will support the international development of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad projects. Panasonic are the presenting partner of Film Nation: Shorts.

For more details visit

Related links

stories of the world

Stories of the World is one of the projects of the four-year London 2012 Cultural Olympiad


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