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Experiment S

Crowds Gather for Beginining of the Launch

Okay,  so I said I would get back before the launch and I didn’t, and even though we had a barn storming 2,000 people turn up to our Street Art Launch and get down to Jason Fury’s Hip Hop vibes,  I still didn’t make it back here to share the effect of the planning we had noted in advance.

If you didn’t make the launch and are a little curious you can watch a record of the night here through Mohammed Ali’s eyes.

It appears that stage 1 of Experiment S is complete. We planned and targeted new incoming students through print, email, press and bribery (sweets) and provided a quality product. The results have been quite stunning.

We now have a regular flow of students within the building interacting with our cafe, collections and of course the three Street Art Exhibitions that kind of hit the nail on the head with content.

Stage two of this new direction in audience development is to get a moderate repeat performance for the two events we have coming up for Mohammed Ali – Can Graffiti Art Really Change the World talk with luminary Henry Chalfant and Breaking Down the Wall Live with spoken word and live art that should be a really nice vibe in the gallery.

Crowds Mob the V A Street Art Exhibition

The real challenge of course is sustaining student interest in our offer when Street Art moves out and something with less obvious connections moves in.

We will always be a family friendly venue and need to generate a dual focus – if done effectively, holiday periods where many students are absent would be flowing with families and when families with older children are at school and work our local student population would help us keep up those numbers.

If we look at the positives of what we experienced in our successful family audience focus it would lead us to an approach of total saturation of ‘student’ content,thinking, programming, offer, appeal, marketing, learning, interest, inclusion, media running through everything we do in order become really student friendly.

Let’s hope this can be pulled off by our amazingly talented teams across all departments…

… another time.

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Summer in the city?

Holy Trinity Bell Tower, circa 1960s

Summer can be a quieter time for libraries and archives but we have remained busy. I’m sure this is partly due to the new series of Who Do You Think You Are?

Now in its seventh season the series seems to be as popular as ever bringing visitors into the History Centre for the first time interested in researching their family history. More experienced family historians who have had their family history on the back-burner for a while have also returned.

The History Centre holds many resources to help trace your family tree whether your ancestors were from Coventry or further afield. We have a subscription to the library edition of the family history database Ancestry which holds a wealth of records for Coventry, the UK and rest of the world. Ancestry is free to use on our History Centre PCs – please give us a ring on 024 7683 4060 for more information.

Coventry Family History Week starts on the 16th August. 17 Family History taster sessions have been planned at libraries across the city and at the Register Office. The History Centre will host a Family History taster session on 17th August. The session will run from 10am to 12pm. Please give us a ring on 024 7683 4060 if you would like more information or book a place.

As well as helping visitors with their family history we have experienced a lot of interest in the photographs in our collection. Over 7000 images of Coventry and the local area can be viewed on our website Pictures of Coventry.  

In addition to our own website we regularly use other websites to try and track down photographs of local people and places for enquirers. Here are some of our favourites:

Images of England: http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/

Windows on Warwickshire: http://www.windowsonwarwickshire.org.uk/

Earlsdon Online: http://www.earlsdon.org.uk/index.htm

Mirrorpix: http://www.mirrorpix.com/fotoweb/home.fwx

We have also found the website Geograph really useful when we have been trying to identify photographs to add to our collection:

Geograph: http://www.geograph.org.uk/mapbrowse.php

In the last few weeks we have received some interesting donations: the quantity surveyor’s records for the building of the Council House (1912-22) and an architectural student’s drawings of Holy Trinity bell tower which formerly stood in Priory Row and was demolished in 1967.
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From Egyptian Mummies to Tracey Emin

Working on the Herbert learning team means getting involved with a huge variety of projects, from running school sessions, to helping out our Families Learning Officer with activities and events, dressing up in costume for sessions like Molly the Maid or Keep Calm and Carry on, or working on the learning programmes for temporary exhibitions, there is always something fun and exciting to be involved with.

Lately on the learning team we have been travelling up and down the country doing research for the Secret Egypt exhibition that is coming up in 2011. This is going to be huge for the Herbert as an exhibition, but also for learning. We’ve already had teachers asking questions about it, so we’re expecting a big uptake with visits for the learning programme. Over the last couple of months we have been to Leicester, Sheffield, and Manchester to talk with other museums about what works and what doesn’t for Ancient Egyptian school sessions, and over the next few weeks we’ll be travelling to Birmingham, Bolton, London and Oxford to meet with some others. This is great for us as we’re getting a real insight into what is available from other museums and we’re meeting a lot of fellow museum educators. Over the next few months the learning team will be putting the Secret Egypt school’s programme together so keep looking out for updates of how that’s going! Read the rest of this entry

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