Museum of Oxford Recipes and Reminiscence intergenerational Project

Charles Stone, Museum of Oxford
Jean Gibbons, Museum of Oxford
Museum of Oxford

Two well attended reminiscence events took place, each looking at different aspects of Oxford’s food history. The second session took place at Taste of the Tropics pop up Caribbean Café in East Oxford. This gave participants the opportunity to try Caribbean cuisine and to experience Caribbean culture. For some this was a new experience.

Participants brought old favourite family recipes to both sessions and these were collected by the Reminiscence Officer.
The next stage was to work with a class of Year 3 children from Windmill School in Headington to create one of the recipes that had been collected at the reminiscence sessions. Each week for 3 weeks 10 children teamed up with 5 older people from the Memory Lane group to bake a batch of Coconut Pyramids with support from the Reminiscence Officer and staff at the school. The project was funded by Arts Council England via the Major Partner Museum programme at the Oxford University Museums Partnership. In kind funding was provided by Windmill School and the Museum of Oxford (Oxford City Council)

Description of the arts activity

The next stage in the project was a Family Art Day to create a large 3D Coconut Pyramid and Christmas pudding for an exhibition showcasing the project. Families were invited to drop in and help to create the artworks which then went on displays in the Recipes and Reminiscences exhibition which also featured a listening post with participant’s recorded memories available to listen to and a display case of old fashioned cookery related objects. The exhibition was open for 6 weeks and attracted 3174 visitors. The panels and 3D work from the exhibition are now on display at the participating school. Outcomes
Measured against the aims and objectives the project delivered the following outcomes;

  • To celebrate the skills of the participants and celebrate their family traditions.

The reminiscence sessions were very popular, 57 people attended the two sessions and 31 recipes where collected.

  • To increase the wellbeing of the participants by engaging them in enriching and sociable activities.

Feedback suggested that participants found it a fun and enjoyable activity, which gave them a sense of purpose

  • To deliver a series of interesting and engaging events that would appeal to an older audience.

Attendance at all the sessions was high

  • To educate a group of year 3 children in cookery history and cooking skills

45 pupils from year 3 at Windmill School took part in the intergenerational cookery sessions, baking cakes, handling objects relating to cookery in the past.

  • To source recipes and memories for a recipe book to be sold in the Museum of Oxford shop

31 Recipes were collected. A pamphlet featuring all the recipes submitted is available on the Museum of Oxford website.

  • To develop a greater understanding between different groups, young and older via creative activities

The intergenerational aspect of project helped to break down preconceptions and barriers by bringing together groups who would not normally work together in this way and helped to increase understanding and build relationships between the school children and the older people.

  • To enable our older participants to develop a greater understanding of other cultures

The group visited the Taste of the Tropics pop up café, which for many was the first experience of trying Caribbean food. The meal was greatly enjoyed and was followed by a reminiscence session including café regulars and Memory Lane regulars.

  • To contribute to the Museum of Oxford exhibition programme

The Recipes and Reminiscence display formed part of the Museum of Oxford Christmas exhibition including panels, 3D work, a listening post and a case of objects.

Details of the project participants

The reminiscence sessions were greatly enjoyed by the participants and a total of 57 participants attended the two sessions, the intergenerational cookery sessions where very popular with younger and older participants and attracted a total of 45 (15 older people and 30 children) participants. The Family Art Day attracted 97 participants. A reminiscence group participant and 2 of the school children were interviewed on BBC Radio Oxford to discuss their experience (Some participants took part in more than one component of the project)

Project management

The project was delivered by the Reminiscence Officer at the Museum of Oxford working with a Community Artist and project partners at Windmill School and Afrikan Caribbean Kultural Heritage Initiative. There was no cost for participation and consent forms were obtained for any audio and visual material that was shared on websites or in exhibition

Evaluation methods and findings

A full evaluation report was completed using feedback from project participants and partners and forms the basis of this case study.

Stakeholder and participant feedback 

  • I took part in the Family Art day with my niece. I found it a very positive experience and very interesting. A lot of thought had gone into the preparation and all the children were very engaged in what was there.
  • At Windmill School I really enjoyed seeing the children taking such an interest, it was a lovely idea and great that all the children got certificate for their work. Very well organised.
  • This was a really meaningful, long term museum community engagement project that had a lasting impact on the participants


Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England