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!"