New Online Resource Brings Ford Maddox Brown Painting To Life

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 11 February 2008
a painting showing workers on a crowded street

Ford Maddox Brown, Work. © Manchester City Art Gallery

A famous Victorian painting is being brought to life in Manchester as part of a new online teaching resource for primary school teachers.

Work, by Ford Maddox Brown, hangs in the Manchester City Gallery and depicts various characters from different social backgrounds at work in a street in Hampstead.

Now a new resource is combining 21st century digital technology and actors to bring the painting to life with characters that literally emerge from the artwork to talk to the viewer.

Designed to allow children to interact with different themes in one of the gallery’s most celebrated paintings, the free website that hosts the new resource launches later this month.

Pupils using it can watch and listen to the characters talk about their experiences of Victorian life, gaining a snapshot into the period and helping them to empathise with different characters – from a navvy to a temperance campaigner.

a screenshot from a website featuring a man dressed in Victorian worker's clothes holding a clay pipe

The navvy tells viewers of his life as a worker in Victorian Britain.

“It is amazing to see characters from Ford Madox Brown’s painting literally come to life through such an innovative use of digital technology,” said Councillor Mike Kane, Executive Member for Arts and Leisure, Manchester City Council.

“The website will enable children to have access to our collections in a different and fun way, and will hopefully encourage people to come here to see the actual painting.”

The site is designed complement a new drama-based workshop session for Key Stage 2 history pupils at the gallery based on Victorian Manchester, and can be used as a stand-alone resource in school or as part of a gallery visit.

It also includes extensive downloadable teachers’ resources and if popular, the gallery intends to work with schools to select further artworks to be interpreted digitally.

The site also features activities, games and a quiz that encourages close observation of the painting, the exploration of the meanings of objects within the work and further insight into Victorian life.

See a protoype of the website at: www.manchestergalleries.org/ford-madox-brown

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