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.
My 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!
The school holidays are well under way now, which should mean a quieter time for the learning team as we mostly work with schools, but for our family learning officer, Mel, it means all systems go! She has been busy getting everything in place for the ‘Face up to Summer’ activities that are taking place in the museum throughout the holidays, which so far have been going really well and producing some lovely examples of art work by the children (check the pictures out to see some of the results).
I’ve particularly been enjoying the school holiday activities because I’ve been spotting lots of children from schools I visited just before the schools broke up. I went around schools in Coventry delivering assemblies called ‘All about Apes’ to promote the summer temporary exhibition ‘Face to Face’. During the assemblies I kept telling all the pupils that if they spotted me during the summer at the museum they had to come up to me and remind me of what I’d been teaching them that day…… I’ve lost count of how many children have been finding me and telling me the facts about apes that they remember, so I’m very impressed with them all!
Last week we had a professional story-teller in from Annamation, who were creating stories in the Face to Face exhibition space with families. It was really fun to watch and very entertaining so we’re looking forward to them returning again next week.
Felt Fridays and object handling in the afternoons has been working really well too. This is something new for this summer; usually we have the drop-in art activities all week, but to offer something a bit more collections centred and focused Mel came up with these ideas. I popped into one of the object handling sessions and the families were asking lots of questions about the objects and the children were spending a lot of time exploring the objects and doing observational drawings of them. The atmosphere was relaxed and calm, which I think was what Mel needed after the running around involved for the drop-in activities all week.
By the time I post my next blog I’ll be well into going around schools for a WW2 assembly, so catch up with me again in a few weeks to read about some of the Coventry citizens who contributed to the war effort, including the story of Noreen Dalglish, an Ambulance driver from Coventry who happens to be the Grandmother of one of the learning officers here at the Herbert. Until then…have a happy summer time!