Monday, April 27, 2015

Experience Castleford Forum Museum

Hi my name is Danielle. I am the front of house staff at Castleford Forum Museum. I have been in the post for 4 months now and I am really enjoying it! The job includes meeting and greeting the visitors, ensuring the museum is clean and tidy and collections are looked after - but my biggest aim is to ensure all visitors get the most out of their visit. 

In the museum we hold drop-in sessions inspired by the collections we have on display in the museum during the school holidays. These are open to everyone. It’s great to get involved with the community and provide different activities to ensure everyone gets the best out of the museum and can understand their local heritage.

Mugs painted in a drop-in session in Castleford Museum - inspired by the Castleford Pottery on display

It is fantastic to have local schools in the museum that can learn from their own heritage with it being on their door step. We offer lots of different workshops and self-led sessions to the schools.

Roman comb
I have recently been involved in a school visit from Castleford Park Juniors Academy. Year 3s came to Castleford Forum Museum for a self-led session. They were about 50 children on each day. The topic the children were most interested in was the Romans. The children looked around the Roman displays and the rest of the Museum before coming around the activity table for question time with our curator, Dave Evans and me. The children really got involved and wanted to know lots about the Romans.

Roman tile with a dog paw-print!

After the question time was up, the children were split into two groups. One group to see the Henry Moore display downstairs and the rest to do the activities I had developed, before swapping over. 

I showed the pupils the objects from the worksheets, and helped them find the words around the museum for the Roman crossword I had created for them. This challenged and developed me; I read through and made notes from the Roman Castleford books and resources, I wanted to learn anything I felt might come up in the session. I learnt about all the collections in the Museum so I could be most helpful on the days for the children. 

The children learnt a lot, and the teacher from Park Junior School told me “the children from Monday’s session are still going on about it and how much they enjoyed it.” 

It was great to watch and help the children in something I had created for them. Overseeing the visit was a new and great experience for me as a front of house staff; I learnt something new and spent half the day talking and answering questions with the children and staff.

There are lots of drop-in sessions coming up in Castleford. Why not pop in and get involved?

Flags, Badges and Paper Chains!
Saturday 2 May  
11am – 2pm
Castleford Forum Museum
Suitable for all
Take inspiration from the Jack Hulme images of celebration to create badges and flags ready for the big race!
Free, no need to book

Mosaic Coasters
Tuesday 26 May
11am – 2pm
Castleford Forum Museum
Suitable for all!
Make a mosaic coaster with ceramic tesserae (or paper for younger participants). 
Free, no need to book

Brilliant Boats
Thursday 28 May
10am - 12.00 noon
Castleford Forum Museum
Design and create your own mini model boat!
Suitable for all!
Free - no need to book

Henry Moore Tiles 
Friday 29 May
11am – 2pm 
Castleford Forum Museum
Find out about Henry Moore and his artistic style, and use it as inspiration to decorate a ceramic tile/coaster.
Suitable for all!
Free - no need to book 

Henry Moore Sculptures
Saturday  30 May
11am – 2pm 
Castleford Forum Museum
Be inspired by the community case created by St Joseph's School and create your own Henry Moore sculpture from clay. 
Suitable for all!
Free, no need to book

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Nightingale Chorus

Nightingales to be heard in Wakefield once more….

May 2nd 1865. On this night at 11 o’clock two nightingales were singing melodiously in the Park at Walton Hall.

This is the last entry in the notebook of Charles Waterton, the Wakefield naturalist, explorer and pioneering conservationist. He died 150 years ago in 1865.  

From May 2015 Wakefield Museums and Countryside will mark this anniversary to celebrate Waterton’s incredible life and commemorate his legacy.

As part of the Nightingale Festival Wakefield Museums have taken inspiration from Nightingales singing melodiously and have created a chorus of Nightingales across the city.  Venues across the city will be playing snippets of beautiful and entrancing Nightingale song on 2 May, 27 May and throughout June.

There is also an exciting programme of events and activities planned as part of the festival including a spectacular exhibition at Wakefield Museum, a Waterton comic, artist commissions, workshops, talks and much more.

For more information about the Nightingale Festival

@WFMuseums #Waterton150

Further information about Nightingales:

Latin name: Luscinia megarhynchos

Nightingales are a bit bigger than a robin, with plain brown feathers. They are difficult to spot, and like to hide in thick bushes. The nightingale is on the amber list for conservation in the UK. Numbers fell by over 50% between 1995 and 2008, due to a decline in its preferred habitat  You are now extremely unlikely to see a nightingale in Wakefield.  They are found in the south east – Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Kent & Sussex. Despite the name, nightingales also sing throughout the day.  It is the males that sing. The collective noun for nightingales is a watch. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Summer Term at school!

With the start of the school Summer Term (where does the time go?!), we thought we would take a little look a back at the Spring Term delivery with Wakefield Museums.  From workshops at the two castles to visits to Wakefield Museum and outreach into schools, the team have covered sessions on Rhubarb to sessions using iPads to record short stories and animations. 

We met nearly 2000 pupils and their teachers during the Spring term and here are some comments we received:

“The workshop was excellent. The children all had chance to participate and had lots of fun” KS2 teacher Charles Waterton session

“Excellent workshop – appropriate to the age of the children. Children really enjoyed it and learnt a lot – Thank you” KS1 Teacher Charles Waterton session

“The workshop was very well organised and enjoyable.” KS1 teacher Victorian Houses and Homes session

“Very well led. All children engaged.” KS2 teacher Sandal Castle tour and poetry session

“I wish we could do it again” Y5 pupil animation session

“I in joyed it cos it was fun. The best bit was when she tod us about the things in her huse” Y1 pupils Victorian house and home session

“Dear Museum leader, Making the video was fun! It was the time of my life! Thank you for the visit” Y1 Objects and iPad storytelling session

So what do we have for the summer term? Well we have sessions booked including Egyptian artefacts, Medieval Bones, Tudor Food, Sandal Castle tours and more Waterton sessions - to name a few.

To see what other school sessions we offer see our learning pages at

Friday, April 10, 2015

Museum Musings

Notes from Front of House - by Alyson

It is an exciting time to be starting my new post at Front of House; there is a great deal to enjoy, from the colourful stories retold by the local characters, to working with new objects and exhibitions. 

Thoughts on the new exhibition flit through my head on the way to work. The Call to Arms posters are framed and displayed and I am wondering where in Wakefield they would have originally been displayed?  

A Call To Arms - exhibition at Wakefield Museum

Helping the museum conservator clean the WWI cap and arm band raised two questions: who did they belong to, and did they survive the war? We will need to dig around to put an answer to those questions. 

So many survived the war, but developed what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Mental Health display in the building’s atrium has some information on that, but how did families cope with it? This will have been something every community must have faced when their loved ones returned home.

I am sure that there are stories out in Wakefield that could shed a more poignant light onto the finds that we have on display throughout the museum. It certainly opened up stories for my husband, who came in to see the fragment of shell casing that bombed Thornes Road in WW2 and narrowly missed his Mum sheltering under the table. 

WW2 case in the main gallery
The posters will be changing over again in May and another set of newly conserved posters will be on display. The conservators have done a super job repairing the small tears, removing sellotape and cleaning away the surface dirt that will always accumulate on objects. The result has enabled the exhibition team to create a visually stunning exhibition that I can always find 'that something extra' to add to my day.   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reptiles take over the museum!

Tuesday saw the first of our Easter holiday workshops with Wakefield Museums.

Click here for other family activities this Easter Holiday 

Reptilia Ossett provided families with the opportunity to get up close with some amazing reptiles.  From hissing cockroaches to a monitor lizard youngsters (and their grown-ups) had the chance to learn about and feed some of these more unusual creatures.

Comments from the workshop included “It was very educational, the workshop facilitators were friendly and patient. They were excellent at answering questions and knowledgeable about the reptiles.”  “Thank you – a lovely (even if a bit scary) activity” “I liked when they put the snake around my neck and when I held the millipede.”

Based in Ossett, Reptilia are “not just a pet shop” but are also an RSPCA approved reptile rescue centre. Along with selling reptiles and Aquatics they provide children with the chance to get a hands on experience, feed and handle a variety of animals. We approached Reptilia to come and provide a workshop at Wakefield Museum as a link to the animals on display in Waterton gallery in the museum.