Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Half Term Activities - Free!

A selection of museum objects will soon be on display at Drury Lane Library.  These objects will be going into our new museum when it opens, but will provide a 'taster' in the library in the meantime.

To make best use of these objects, we will be running a number of free school, family and adult sessions.

Monday 13th February
Write One! – Creative Writing Session
Age 7-11
10am – 11.30am at Drury Lane Library
 2pm - 3.30pm at Stanley Library
Drop-in event, no need to book
Find out about the new development and write your own fantastic stories and poems with wacky local poet Conrad Burdekin
Author of ‘The Humgrumptious Blumpth’ 
and ‘Teachers Pick their Noses’

Thursday 16th February
Noah’s Nippers
Age 2-5
10:30am to 12pm
Booking essential as places are limited – 01924 302700
For our younger friends, why not come and join us to see the wonders of Noah’s ark. With storytelling and craft activities, come and see what is over the other side of the rainbow!

Thursday 16th February
Larks on the Ark!
Age 5-12
1pm to 2:30pm
Booking essential as places are limited – 01924 302700
Inspired by our wonderful Noah's Ark toy, we will learn about some of our favourite animals from Noah's Ark, and even create some fabulous animals ourselves!

For more events at Museums, Castles and Libraries, visit
Experience Wakefield

Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting Up Close - to a Crocodile!

Could you jump onto the back of a live crocodile? 

Waterton capturing the cayman.  Original painting by his friend Captain Edwin Jones. 
That’s exactly what local explorer Charles Waterton did in Guyana in the 1820s. The cayman – a type of South American crocodile is one of Wakefield Museum’s scariest exhibits (after some of the museum staff before they’ve had coffee!) and the museum designers are working out how to give visitors a Waterton eye view of the reptile. Current plans are to put the beast under the floor with a glass top. 

Plan of the Waterton section of the museum - we hope the cayman will be placed under the middle of the floor!
As well as getting close to it, the display will also highlight other items which Waterton displayed with it, such as the ropes and hooks used to catch it which were very hard to see in the last display.

A close up of the original hook and tackle used to capture the cayman.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

askit, filmit, shareit in Museums

We are working with the Museum of London and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on a pilot project to pioneer a new approach to engage children with museum collections. Primary schools will make films inspired by their investigation of museum objects and share them with other schools using social media. 

Research has shown that digital technologies, especially film-based technologies, have great potential to motivate children, in particular those who may be under-achieving at school or are disillusioned with more traditional teaching and learning methods. The funders, the Helen Hamlyn Trust, hopes that this approach could become a mainstay of museums’ provision for schools.

Wakefield has a cluster of Open Futures schools, which already use a skills and enquiry based programme for their curriculum. The Learning and Skills team are very excited by the prospect of combining the 'askit' and 'filmit' approaches of Open Futures to enrich museum-based learning.

On January 11th, we met with teachers from a range of schools to work out how the sessions would work best.  It has been decided that our sessions will focus on the Waterton collection - a natural history collection with a twist as some of the creatures were invented to make political points!
Close-up of John Bull and the National Debt - one of Charles Waterton's  creations!
We look forward to pioneering these new sessions in Wakefield's new museum in the autumn. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Turning ideas in to reality!

Last week, museum staff were invited on a tour of Wakefield One, now that the first phase of the building works has been completed. All were in agreement that the spaces were looking very impressive and placing the new museum in this very contemporary setting would be a challenging yet exciting prospect.

Our in-house design team have been working very hard on developing a new and exciting floor plan for the museum displays. We want to give the collections a new lease of life and tell the stories of Wakefield people, past and present. The next stage is to hand over our designs to a specialist museum fit–out company who will turn our aspirations into 3D reality.

Just to give you a taster of the work that has been done so far, the image below is of the ‘Welcome to Wakefield’ zone - it will be the first areas you will see when you enter the new museum. It will focus on interesting objects and facts that many people, locals included, may find surprising about the city (for example did you know that we have what is probably the oldest British letter box still in existence!)

It will be fascinating to see how these initial designs and ideas are further developed in the next few months – so watch this space!

Friday, January 6, 2012

We're bringing the museum out to you!

To ensure that there is still access to museum objects whilst the museum is closed, we will be offering a range of outreach sessions, bringing objects to you! 

The Learning team are out and about delivering sessions to schools, using objects from the collection. Local pupils will be able to use these objects as creative inspiration, and may even find their work on display in the new museum when it opens!

In late January there will be a set of Museum displays in Drury Lane Library.  One will focus on toys and games, and will be in the Children’s section of the library.  Come back soon to find out more details of what has been chosen to go in these displays, and for details of the fun sessions using them – for schools, families and adults.  These will include some special creative writing workshops.