A guest post by Amy, our Primary Learning Coordinator.
During our hello future redevelopment, the Inflatable Museum will be bringing the wonder and curiosity of a museum experience to school halls and community venues across the region. A big part of this will be helping to help keep the magic of ancient Egypt – and the importance of learning from the ‘real thing’ – alive in primary schools whilst our Ancient Worlds galleries are closed for a couple of years. But as an inclusive museum we’ll also be using it to find new ways of helping different people from all walks of life to feel like a part of the museum …without even needing to visit it.
So far this year, the Inflatable Museum has popped up at festivals and community arts days, at libraries and civic spaces, and even hosted a branch of the University of Manchester’s kid-on-kid conference, the Great Science Share, at Abraham Moss Community School.
This summer, we worked closely with Heald Place Primary School in Rusholme, Manchester, to pilot a new way of using this fantastic asset to support the transition of Year 6 pupils to secondary schools. Often, Year 6’s celebrate this change with a ‘leavers assembly’, but this is difficult in large, diverse schools such as Heald Place, and this is where the Museum got involved.
On the theme ‘This is Me’, we challenged pupils to create a museum about themselves: where they are now, where they’ve come from in their school journey, and their hopes, dreams and fears for the future. Children visited the museum and took part in a workshop to understand how museums tell stories through objects, labels and displays. Pupils used this as a starting point for further work in school throughout the summer term.
In July, the Inflatable Museum popped up in the school hall at Heald Place. Teachers and museum staff worked together to install displays showcasing the work produced by the entire year group. Across two days, the Year 6 pupils welcomed their families, siblings and friends and took on key roles such as greeters, performers, tour guides, shop assistants and photographers. Some even acted as bouncers to keep everyone safe when the museum got a bit full!
It turns out that the Inflatable Museum is great for this kind of thing: the windows and display cases, together with some folding exhibition boards, were perfect for creating zones in the space and displaying artwork and photos. As the feedback from teachers, pupils and parents suggests, the Inflatable Museum provided a great alternative to the standard leavers assembly:
“[The project] really helped many of our parents who have little or no English to relax with their child and more time to enjoy and absorb the results of their hard work. A different more spacious and personal approach to an end of year celebration!” (Teacher)
“I think it’s amazing! Wow. The quality of the writing and drawing is fantastic, it is all fabulous to see. I think this is more inspiring than a normal show as there is more to see and do.” (Parent)
“It was really fun because we got to talk about it to people and guide them to our things” (Year 6 child)
“It’s a great way for us to come together” (Year 6 child)
“I will recommend this project because they will get more confident” (Year 6 child)
“It was fun to work together and be in charge instead of you having to learn a part in a performance” (Year 6 child)
“I enjoyed that my mum came and that everyone had fun” (Year 6 child)
This type of long-term, collaborative working with schools and their communities supports our vision to become a more inclusive, caring and imaginative museum. Our experiences of the Heald Place project will inform our work to develop new Inflatable Museum programmes for schools in the future.
Interested in the Inflatable Museum? We are currently taking bookings for the Inflatable Museum to go out to Key Stage 2 classes. To find out more about new opportunities in the Primary Schools Programme, please sign up to our dedicated e-newsletter or if you are interested in an innovative Inflatable Museum project of your own, please contact Amy or have a look at some of the resources available online via sites such as Kid Curators.