Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from the Museum Team!
Wakefield Museum is open from 9.30 to 5pm
24th, 27th and 31st December.

Hobson's sweet shop on Little Westgate. The window is full of crackers, stockings and other Christmas novelties. 1920

Earthenware mixing bowl, made by Clokie and Co. The bowl was used by the Clokie family to make the Christmas pudding from about 1908 to 1950. It is chipped and cracked from much use.

All of these images, and lots more, are available through our online collections resource.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A tasty exhibition

Work is currently taking place designing the next temporary exhibition at Wakefield Museum.  Due to open in March 2013 this tasty exhibition will look at food for all seasons.  Part of the exhibition will look at what was stored in the larder at Sandal Castle in 1322! This included 21 bacons and a whole load of herrings! We are spending time searching for wooden barrels and fake bacon…

We are also looking into displaying a jug found in the moat at the Sandal Castle, possibly flung in there following a riotous evening of entertainment…imagine having a giant knees up at Sandal Castle…cheers!
A medieval jug found  in the excavations of the moat at Sandal Castle
This exhibition is part of an exciting project working with the University of Leeds and The University of Bradford, funded by the Wellcome Trust. 
For more details of You Are What You Ate, see the project website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Week of Time Travelling

The learning and skills team have been time-travelling this week.  From creating Tudor medicines to planning a 'dig for victory' garden pupils from around the district have been learning about the past with hands-on activities and meeting characters from the past. 

Pupils from Wrenthorpe and Horbury held 1940s mornings - starting with a cold, brisk walk to school as evacuees they met with 1940s housewife Dorothy Rainey to handle original wartime objects to support their learning. 

Pupils from Flanshaw met with Ann Dixon, resident of 126 Nelson Street during the 1800s, to handle Victorian objects and discuss the life of Victorian children.

A Tudor afternoon took place at Featherstone All Saints, with each Key Stage 2 class participating in an exciting role play session which saw them assisting Mistress Grace in the preparation of tooth polish, headache remedies and herbs for warding off plague! 

It's enough to confuse anyone!

Learning Officer, Louise Bragan as Victorian Housewife, Ann Dixon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Crafty Crocs fun!

The second monthly session of Crafty Crocs took place at Wakefield Museum and Learning Zone yesterday.

Children aged 2-5 years (along with their grown-ups) took part in specially prepared festive crafts and looked at the museum collections.  Activities included using the museum for an i-spy trail before turning their list of objects into an advent calendar inspired craft.  They also used triangles to create Christmas trees with tissue paper baubles, and got messy hand printing antlers onto reindeer!

i-spy trail around the museum
'Advent calendar' of museum objects

Hand prints make perfect antlers!
The finished reindeer!
Sessions for the New Year are now being advertised, booking is essential as places are limited. 

Contact 01924 302700 or email to book your place for:
 February 5th, March 5th, May 7th, June 4th and July 2nd 2013

Monday, November 26, 2012

Artwalk at Wakefield Museum - this Wednesday

Wakefield Artwalk is a recurring evening of exhibitions, events and cultural entertainment open to everybody.  On the last Wednesday of every other month venues across Wakefield City open their doors free of charge, to exhibit visual art, hold a performance or host a form of cultural activity. 

Wakefield's new museum is delighted to become part of this event - from 5pm to  8pm.

This month art walkers can meet Nino Vella,  the curator of our latest exhibition, ‘Images of Wakefield’, which celebrates artists’ views of the city over the last 250 years.

Images of Wakefield Exhibition
Each event the museum will be hosting something different, from arts and craft activities, local choirs and special events. Wakefield Library and local studies will also be open so it’s a perfect opportunity to pop in and explore our new building.

If that isn't enough to tempt you, our new cafe Create are staying open for the event, and putting on a special deal.  Starter, main course and drink for only £10!
Caesar salad
Caesar salad with dry cured bacon
Warm slad with green beans, bacon and avocado
Salad selection
Vegetable Soup with selection of breads
Create Broth

Main courses:
Spicy meatballs
Grilled salmon, herb mayonaise,  potato salad
Grilled bacon chop, pineapple salsa
Create marinated vegetable skewers,  cous cous salad
Slow cooked ham hock, beans and toast
Spelt risotto, butternut abd Yorkshire blue
Roast squash, sweet potato, watercress and onion salad

Create delivers coaching and paid work experience for vulnerable and marginalised people to help them  develop the skills they need to gain permanent employment (and their food is really good!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The weird and wonderful come to the Museum!

Today the museum and library joined in with Wakefield's Victorian Christmas Festival.

The wonderfully crazy Palace of Curiosities delighted visitors with tales of their collection of exhibits.  Cleopatra's hand, a unicorn's horn, two-headed pig and even a mermaid were displayed in the museum.

The Palace of Curiosities - would you trust these men?

Mermaid-flavoured rum, anyone?
Getting close to the exhibits - perhaps a little too close for comfort!
Meanwhile, storyteller Sue Allonby was telling tall tales by the Victorian Fireside.  Families loved listening to - and taking part in - her interactive tales.
Storytelling in the Front Room

Storytelling by the hearth

Friday, November 23, 2012

Close encounters with new audiences

Two hands-on sessions with unusual themes took place on Monday, bringing in people who might not usually visit the museum to speak to Social History Curator - John Whitaker.

To mark Parliament Week, visitors were shown a range of objects in the collections reflecting both local and national politics. They handled objects ranging from 19th century election leaflets to Spitting-Image-style puppets of modern politicians. Encouraging users to explore and enjoy the collections can also lead to enriching the collections with new donations. As people have a better understanding of what we do, some may be encouraged to  donate objects of local  interest that they hadn't  previously thought a museum could possibly want.

A second visit by a Readers’ Group from South Elmsall Library also explored objects from the collections. Readers’ Groups nationwide have been encouraged to read The World in 100 Objects book based on the popular British Museum radio series. The following comments from one of the participants show the power of objects to inspire. The head that the group handled was the 2,000 year old enigmatic Celtic head found at Crigglestone.
 "Just a few words of appreciation for your time and talents on Monday afternoon. It was such a thrill to see and be conducted round Wakefield's shining new Museum. We thought the building itself was stunning, so huge and imposing.

To walk in and see the part of the Celtic Cross being raised into position, to leave seeing it there, was a bonus.
The galleries were warm and welcoming, with lots of exciting objects to come and have another look at, maybe in the New Year.
Our time in the learning room, where you explained to us so well, what had been done and what was to be done. Then you 'opened the box' to show us the objects, I liked your idea of the three boxes, we did see the smallest one! Beautiful wood and workmanship.
A dressing case for an important Wakefield Banker, 1822
Then (drum role) 'OUR HEAD'! it was a thrill to put on our blue gloves to hold it. The weight was a pure shock and unexpected, but there were dainty bits too, the hair, sideburns and beard. How did they managed to do such intricate work, with the limited tools at their disposal.

John Whitaker showing the Celtic Head
After, we did go downstairs and try out your Cafe, they do a nice cup of teas, will try the food on our next visit. We discovered the footpath down to the Railway Station, which makes it so easy to access Wakefield One, we can visit regularly.
Please do keep  me updated on events.  Thank you so much for a fascinating afternoon. I had to so a lot of 'googling heads' during the evening - getting my brain too excited to sleep!"
Members of the South Elmsall Readers' Group with John Whitaker (Museums) and Alison Cassels (Libraries)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Play in a Day!

Last Thursday and Friday, Wakefield Museum hosted a “Play In a Day” project, in partnership with Yew Tree Arts.

Children from Newton Hill and Stanley St Peters primaries came to Wakefield One, where they developed, rehearsed and performed plays based on what inspired them in the new museum.

The children were extremely excited to see the new museum, and also the new library - with many of them expressing real eagerness to bring their families and to the museum and to borrow books from the library. Each child worked incredibly hard, with only a few hours to turn their ideas into performances for the public!

The children explored the stories of some of Wakefield’s past inhabitants, including Irish immigrant Ann Dixon, conservationist and explorer Charles Waterton, innovator and collector Frank Green, businesswoman and executive Jean Tyrrell and feminist campaigner Sheila Capstick. Some of the children narrated these characters’ stories, accompanied by dramatic reenactments of key moments of their lives.

The focus then turned to some of the other themes of the Museum exhibition: the Arts, Justice, Love and War. These themes really gave the children an opportunity to show off their dramatic talents – with ballerinas, jail breaks, weddings and beheadings!

After all of their very hard work in development and rehearsal, the time at last came for them to perform their work to the public! They performed in the lower atrium, while an audience of their family members (and some curious members of Wakefield One staff!) gathered on the stairs and in the upper atrium to watch. The groups all performed brilliantly - singing, acting and dancing with gusto!

There were lots of very supportive and encouraging comments from members of Wakefield One staff, who clearly enjoyed seeing the space being used so creatively. The children were also wonderful ambassadors for young people, showing that lots of young people are still very excited about history, museums and performance.

This was a fantastic opportunity to make the most of the new Museum, the new building and our links with Yew Tree - and we look forward to many more exciting and innovative projects in the future!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Images of Wakefield

Did you know that Wakefield has attracted artists for centuries due to the beauty of the Chantry Chapel and because it has one of the most distinctive and attractive skylines in the region?
Wakefield Museum’s first temporary exhibition at Wakefield One, the newest addition to the city’s urban landscape, is a celebration of artists’ views of the city and features a collection of paintings, prints and sketches illustrating how it has changed over the last 250 years.
Buck, Samuel  (1696-1779) The South Prospect of the Ruins of Sandal  Castle and Town of Wakefield, 1722.  Engraving on Paper

The earliest image on view is a panoramic vista of Wakefield from the south and was probably done in the 1670s or 1680s. It records Wakefield as it looked at that time with the spire of the church of All Saints (later Wakefield Cathedral) and the Chantry Chapel dominating the scene. However, other views in the exhibition look at specific areas of the city which have changed more recently. For some local people these will no doubt prompt a sense of nostalgia for buildings and places that are now just a memory.

Jones,  FC, View of the Springs, 1945.
The exhibition is collaboration with The Hepworth Wakefield and will be display until 2nd February 2013.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First school group in!

The new Wakefield Museum has welcomed its first school visitors! Last week saw a group of lower foundation children from West Bretton Junior and Infant school visiting the museum to learn about toys and games of the past.

Toys on display at the new Wakefield  Museum
They learned about different toys from history, they played and interacted with a selection of old-fashioned toys, and they even made their very own Victorian-style thaumatropes. This session was a pilot, allowing the learning team to discover how the spaces work, and make sure that the learning offer is as good as it can be.

This Toys and Games session is now available to book!

Children and staff all had a brilliant time, and we look forward to welcoming many more school groups to the new museum!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Crafty Crocs Launched!

The first of our brand new Crafty Crocs sessions was held in the Learning Zone at Wakefield Museum today.  Our younger visitors enjoyed creating some messy painted autumn crafts such as leaf-printed owls and even window painting!

Leaf  Printing!
A special paint was made especially for painting onto windows (so that it could easily be washed off!), and the Crafty Crocs had great fun being creative with it.  Hopefully it will have cheered up any passers-by on such a cold, wet day!
Painting  a monster onto  the window!

Painting the window with special washable paint was fun!

Messy creative fun on a wet day
The next Crafty Crocs sessions are on Tuesday December 4th 2012 and the team are taking bookings now.  Sessions are for 2-5 year olds and please wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy!  (Photographs are published here with written consent of the parents).

Sessions run from 10am to 11am, and from 1.15pm to 2.15pm, and are free, but booking is essential as places are limited.

Call 01924 302700,  or email to book.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Our first week in the new museum!

This half term has seen the learning and skills team deliver our first family workshops at the new Wakefield Museum and Learning Zone.  Children aged 2 – 12 years were invited to take part in the family workshops ranging from looking at the season of autumn and the amazing people who have lived in our city.

For ‘Autumn’s Arrived’ our younger visitors looked at the season using leaves as a focus.  Having drawn round their arms and hands they created an autumn scene, moving on to completing hedgehog spikes by drawing round their fingers and then colouring acorn images using spices to make their pictures smell! 

Children also had a go at leaf rubbing, something many of us may have done as a child and forgotten the fun it brings – why not give it a go!

Comments from children and parents included;

“It’s been a lovely morning thank you”

“I’d have never have thought of doing this – it’s simple really”

“I likd all of it fankyou”

At the 'Wow  It's Wakefield' workshop, we learned all about some of Wakefield’s most famous and important people. We explored the life of Charles Wateron, learning all about the places he went to, the animals he found, and his very peculiar habits, as well as making very frightening caiman puppets to take home. We then learnt about Sheila Capstick and her campaign for women’s equality in snooker, and made some fab and groovy 1970s-inspired posters for her campaign!

Comments from workshop participants included:

 "I never knew anyone cool was from Wakefield before!"

 "I’m going to make another crocodile at home. No – I’m going to make a HUNDRED crocodiles at home!"

"This was the perfect way to finish off the holiday. Thankyou so much – I’ve never seen them look so involved!"

Monday, October 29, 2012

We Are Open!

Wakefield's new museum opened its doors today, and has been well-received!

The Museum and Library are now open:

Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays
9.30am - 6.00pm

Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
9.30am - 8.00pm
Adrian is here to welcome you!

Squeals of delight were heard as our first young visitor discovered the crocodile under the floor, and the response wasn't that different from most of the grown-ups!

There's a lot going on, so be sure to look at our programme of activities, and make sure you keep coming back as new features are continually added to the museum.

As always, we would love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Come and see!

We are very excited to open bookings for our events and activities programme for Wakefield Museum and Library!  We're planning a huge range of activities and events to introduce you to what we have on offer - have a look at the programme and come and join the fun!

Activities include:

Meet the Expert - every Thursday

Object highlight- lunchtime talks - starting with Parliament Week

Family workshops for October half term, including the Big Draw, handling real animals and lots of fun crafts.

Children's illustrator, Lynne Chapman will be joining us for the Big Draw
Crafty Crocs - new monthly creative fun sessions for 2-5 year olds
Crafty Crocs! for ages 2-5
Medieval Menus - drop-in session to find out about medieval food

Find out about medieval eating with the You Are What You Ate project

Victorian Christmas -  storytelling, crafts and the very wonderful Palace of Curiosities sideshow!
The Palace of Curiosities Victorian Sideshow

Into the mind of a Doctor Who writer!
Doctor Who writer, Robert Shearman

For all  of these events - and loads more, follow this link to the full events programme, and get yourself booked on!

Follow the link above to see the full programme!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wedding Dress on display... ...coming very soon now!

We will be showing off a whole range of wedding dresses at Wakefield Museum. Here volunteer costume curator Nicola Townend and Sobia Pervaiz, who has kindly agreed to lend us her dress, prepare it for display. See the results very soon in the Love display.  It's not long now...

Wedding dress being prepared for display

Monday, October 15, 2012

Special Offer for Young Archaeologists!

We are really pleased to announce that Wakefield's new museum will be included in the Young Archaeologists' Club annual pass.  Museums and attractions across the UK have been invited to participate, and so we are now developing an interactive museum trail - exclusive for YACs! 

The trail will look at the history of Wakefield from its archaeological and object evidence - from Palaeolithic hand axes to a gold posy ring excavated at Sandal Castle - all are clues to Wakefield's past!

Young Archaeologist Club members can show their membership card when they visit the museum, to be given this exclusive trail which will use our new multimedia handheld devices.

The 2012 pass.   We're proud to be part  of the YAC pass 2013!

If you are interested in finding out more about Young Archaeologists' clubs, have a look at their website. 

The most local branch is based at Pontefract castle, meeting once a month on the second Saturday.   Sessions are all on an archaeological theme, including craft skills, practical archaeological skills, and plenty of fun! There are usually several opportunities each year to take part in real archaeology, either within the club itself or via connected organisations.  

For more information email or call 01924 223373

Friday, October 12, 2012

We've found love!

We’ve had a fantastic response to our request for love stories and the displays are going to be all the better for it. The Love section of the new museum will include couples who had a traditional Muslim wedding, ones who have  been married for over 70 years, three generations who chose the 29th March to get married and a glimpse of the modern Westgate hen night.
John and Nora Mountain - married 71 years and still together

John and Nora last week
This will all sit alongside our amazing wedding and courtship collections.