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A Royal Occasion…

Factory tour at the Emma Bridgewater Factory

Factory tour at the Emma Bridgewater Factory

Over the last few weeks the Herbert Learning Team have been working with Coventry’s Sowe Valley Primary school and the elderly people’s care home that sits across from the school on an intergenerational project that focuses on the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The aim of the project is to encourage the children and elderly people to share their memories of royal events that have happened over the last 60 years. For the children the only major event that they can remember was the Royal Wedding from last year, but for the care home residents they had a whole bank of stories, memories and even some objects that they could share with the children.

As the project has progressed we have seen the children’s knowledge of the royal family expand beyond expectations. At just 8 and 9 years old the children only really knew the basics of who the Royal family are and why we have them in England. For most of them they knew who the Queen was (phew!) and of course they recognised Wills and Kate… however they were under the impression that Prince William was the Queen’s son and Charles was her husband (oh dear!). We soon sorted that out though with a family tree activity to help them understand who’s who, the order of the family and the line of accession to the throne. After 4 weeks of working with them they can now easily tell us who Prince Charles has been married to, the name of Queen Elizabeth’s father, and who will be the next 2 future Kings of England, plus lots more.

We’ve also been using some of the museum’s royal memorabilia from the years gone by as a trigger for memories for the

Souvenirs in the making

Souvenirs in the making

care home residents, and as an inspiration for everyone to design their own royal souvenir to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. To help bring the children and elderly people together we treated them to an exciting and unique day at the Emma Bridgewater factory, where we were taken on a tour of the working factories, and saw royal souvenirs in the making and even got to make our own in the design studio. It was a brilliant day and everyone who took part spoke about how much the enjoyed themselves.

The children have grown really fond of the people they have met from the care home, and vice versa. They are always asking about when they will meet again to keep their new found relationship going. We’re glad to say their journey isn’t ending just yet as we’ll all be getting together again for a celebratory street party at the museum to celebrate the jubilee and on the day we’ll present everyone with their fired and finished potteries that they created together. And of course, even the Herbert staff got involved with everything too including sitting on a snazzy spotted throne and the more menial tasks of washing up… well it can’t all be glamorous!

I’ll post again to show you how the pottery collection turned out and what the street party was like. Until next time folks!

Lisa.

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Summer has arrived at the Herbert!

Wax and ink painting made during a family activity session

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!

Annamation storytelling in the Face to Face exhibition

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!

Lisa.
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Ruairi’s Work Experience Blog

Today we have a guest post from Ruairi, a student who has just completed his work experience with us.

Today has been my first day at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum for my work experience. Although I haven’t actually been involved in any sort of work related tasks, it has been, all in all an interesting day. I have had a guided tour around the museum in and around the site meeting the staff and memorizing the locations in which I will be working in the future. I was shown the various exhibits around the museum as well, for instance the Elements exhibition which had some very interesting exhibits like the temperature panels which, as the name suggests, projects temperatures from certain environments around the world such as the Arctic and tropical rainforests.

Today I have been doing varied work. For instance, in the first half of the day, I was painting a play area for children in the Studio. And in the second half of the day I was photographing historical artefacts for the Herbert website. But it was raining outside so I had to put the camera in my bag and at the end of the day, I forgot to take it out! So I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was holding some very expensive equipment on the way home!         

On Wednesday, I was continuing painting in the studio. Which was nice because I saw the progress that was being made inside it. The paint colour was supposed to be brown but it looked a lot more like a pinky sort of colour.           

On Thursday morning I was helping out in a presentation to a primary school. It was about the book “Why?” by Nikolai Popov. Which is about the pointlessness of war…. Which is an odd topic to be discussing with primary school students but they handled the topic quite well and they looked like they enjoyed themselves.

On Friday morning I was helping out in the archives (or the History Centre). I was mainly tasked with finding documents underground and handing them to the people looking for them. But the most interesting thing was seeing a letter written by Anne Boleyn to the Lord Mayor of Coventry and another letter written by Queen Elizabeth the first to the Lord Mayor of Coventry regarding Mary Queen of Scots which had been amazingly well-kept.  And that afternoon I was doing odd jobs for the Front of House receptionist: putting posters up, taking posters down, restocking shelves, etc. which wasn’t as boring as it sounds, actually.
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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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