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)

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