Category Archives: Events

February half term is coming!

Finally after months of preparations we are ready to open our doors to the hundreds of families we are expecting over the next few months. We have already had our first schools through the doors earlier in the week, but next week it will be the turn of our family visitors as they explore our Secret Egypt exhibition and take part in our hands-on family activities over February half term and beyond.

Egyptian ActivityMy main priority as Family Learning Officer was to provide a variety of workshops that will encourage our families to explore and engage with the themes within our Secret Egypt exhibition. This is not always as easy as it sounds as there are so many different ages, tastes and abilities to suit! This is where working as part of the Learning Team is of great benefit as all our research for the schools sessions, including many visits to other galleries and museums, has helped to positively shape the plans for the family programme.  Here I was able to identify what topics to focus on, what had the most potential to be developed into creative workshops and what would further encourage learning outside of the classroom.

I have tried to use all this new knowledge and research to work on the content for the next 20 workshops which cover all the holidays from now until June, early years sessions and the ‘bring your dad’ event day!.

 This has included:

  • Working on the content first and then with the designers on the look and layout of a family trail that encourages visits all the permanent galleries, promotes the use of our Secret Egypt family break out space (more details below) and also combines with an art and craft activity that we will then use to create a fantastic Egyptian display to show our other visitors!
  •  Ordering stacks of unusual and exciting materials, cutting up decorative papers, metals and card, working out templates and making examples, all to make sure we are all prepared for our very popular art and craft sessions.
  •  Co-ordinating the use of our Studio space so our family visitors can use it as an extra activity/break out area. Here we have designed a make-and-take activity that can be done without the need for a facilitator! So, if the activity room downstairs or the exhibition becomes too full, then there is always an area for families to go and do something.
  •  Learning about our 3000 year old Egyptian artefacts and how to use this information for family object handling sessions. Our families will get the chance to handle genuine objects and try on costume that would have been used by ancient Egyptians.

Printing off hundreds of trails, writing up marketing content and working on a timetable for our family activity facilitators has meant for a very busy 6 months. I am now really looking forward to the families coming in and being able to enjoy the benefits of a lot of hard work for such a fantastic exhibition!

We look forward to welcoming you!

Mel, Family Learning Officer
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Two weeks to go…

Napalm by Banksy

Time is ticking now…. as our Street Art Season launch looms within two weeks. I really can’t wait for the night. There’s some amazing stuff programmed – in particular the Live Street Art Battle between six artists. 

Our Herbert Matters invite (the campaign is launching on the same night as Street Art) has been distributed nearly four weeks in advance with some success.   

Regular VIP invites have also been sent out.   

Monday saw us take on the might of the incoming students at Coventry Uni Freshers week – we have taken the liberty of personally inviting all of them to the launch and will be offering some amazing popping gum, artwork and flying saucers to those sensible enough to sign up to our newsletters. This should be the maker or breaker of our launch event so it’s really important to sell the opportunity to the students and hopefully inform their attendance patterns for years to come.   

Design and art colleges around the region emailed and called.   

Posters, banners, pop ups and internal signage – all complete and in place.   

Rail ads running, magazine ads provided, listing sites updated …
should just be a case of making the most of the press opportunities between now and the launch.   

Other things still to complete … street art in the community – Anne-Marie Sandos and Dominic Bubb are working on two great projects bringing street art to two specific areas of the city – one hopefully being Coventry Train Station!   

… next time we talk should be just before the launch with fingers and toes crossed… more then…   

Jamie   

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Street Art – Our Journey Continues…

Love Supreme - Sickboy

Okay … I promised to keep you updated from time to time so you get a sense of the challenges and movement in the marketing of this exhibition … so here it is:

At time of writing we are still basking in the glow of a very successful Street Art Season event – the first in fact – It’s Yours Take It!

We gave away over 100 pieces of street art provided by artists from across the globe as well as putting on some live art demonstrations. Marketing was very limited through traditional channels – just listing in our What’s On Guide and features in regional press so I decided to go heavy on the online newsletters, listing sites, forums and social media – result? Around 1,000 people attended the Street Art event on its own – boosted by an additional 1,200 people attending our History Fair on the same day – very happy.

It was very rewarding to see such a large body of local people interested in owning an original piece when taking away the barrier of money!

So now it’s full steam ahead with exhibitions marketing. Rail adverts have gone to press through the Midlands Rail Network and will be appearing over the next two weeks. None of the lead images apart from the controversial Banksy images scream out to be used above another,  so I have opted to use a mainly text-based approach trading off the names of established artists on the rail networks.

The leaflet has been signed off by the V & A – I have opted for a 6 page A5 full colour option that can cope with the inclusion of the additional works we are programming with Fresh Paint (work from 6 emerging artists) and Mohammed Ali - A West Midlands based artist who is exhibiting and delivering some talks and events. 40,000 of these will go out in the middle of next week if I can afford it. Read the rest of this entry

Jewish Family History

Last Sunday we hosted an event to explore Jewish Family History. The local Jewish community had invited David Jacobs from the Jewish Museum in London who had a rich set of starting points from his own book collection and from the Jewish Chronicle. There is clearly a fantastic local history project waiting to happen.

One small example was a directory from 1893, listing 6 people engaged in the watchmaking industry. A quick chat with a curator suggests that only one of these is known to us. This feels like a lovely example of community history – adding a new layer of detail to the Coventry’s existing story. Given watchmaking is a key part of our history gallery display, it would be great to find a way of making this knowledge available to our visitors.

So often the history of a minority community focuses on the biggest or oldest examples, such as the Chinese community in Liverpool or the London East-End Jews.  I think exploring the stories of these same groups in Coventry is often more representative of the wider UK experience – smaller communities without great buildings and long held links.   

I like the small histories.   They never seem to make it onto the History Channel, but they make the past ring true.

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A View from the Front

Black Jack Gilpin

Black Jack Gilpin

Why did I do it?

Why did I agree to put myself through extra work and the stress of setting up an Armoury in the Undercroft for A Night at the Museum?

Well, one reason is for the last 31 years I have been involved in re-enactment work and have amassed a collection of costume and weapons. The first problem was making six free-standing frames for the armour to be displayed on. I was unable to get help from our Shaky (our resident Technician and all-around clever guy who builds stuff), since he was under pressure with other jobs, so I had to make it myself. The next problem was to find time to get them painted black.

Then I had a stroke of luck: two women happened to be painting some boxes the same colour as I was about to use. They offered to help, I offered to buy chocolates, and the deal was sealed.

By slipping in and out of the Undercroft at odd times I managed to get most of the set up sorted, but it took one last push on the Friday afternoon to get it finished.

On Saturday evening I was all ready for A Night at the Museum. I arrived at the Herbert, changed into my character, Black Jack Gilpin, entered the Undercroft at six of the clock and prepared for a long cold night. I had a constant stream of visitors as I regaled them with tales of ghosts and daring do. Lots of children arrived in their pyjamas but the one thing that sticks in my memory was my “story” of Sir Valentine…how his ghost was reported to walk down the Undercroft stairs, across the floor and up the other stairs leaving a cold draft of air as he passed by….

It had to happen – one of the visitors told me that she was a “ghost hunter” and had spent a night in the Undercroft. She sat upon the stairs in question and there was severe drop in temperature.

Could it be that “Sir Valentine” really walks the steps?

Spooky……..

Eric Hodgkins, Site Management and Gallery Assistant

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