MGM 2008 - Hampshire School Children Create Their Own Museum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 12 May 2008
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Photo of five schoolchildren holding folders in a museum

The young curators at Westbury Manor Museum. Courtesy Hampshire County Council

Primary School pupils in Portchester, Hampshire, have been trained up as professional museum staff in order to be able to open their very own museum.

Wicor Primary School, Portchester, will be the first school in Hampshire to have its own museum after five pupils were trained in curatorship skills by Emma Hart from the county's museums service.

The museum, which is on the theme of wild and weird animals, will be officially opened at the school by Kevin Ashman of BBC2's Eggheads quiz. The ceremony will take place on May 15, to mark Museums and Galleries Month 2008 (MGM).

"The museum will be a key learning resource for the children; our exhibitions will inform, educate and inspire," said Mark Wildman, Head Teacher at Wicor School.

"These exhibitions will enable children themselves to recognise the value of their own collections; to think more critically about things they see in the world."

As well as Emma Hart, the Education Officer from Westbury Manor Museum, a curator, conservators and other specialist staff were all on hand for the training.

The pupils who learnt to be curators – Elsa, George, David and James from year six and Aaron from year five – will pass on their skills to a new set of pupils before they leave. In this way, the museum will continue and change each year.

Elsa explained the exciting role: "Being a curator means I will be working hard behind the scenes, touching things I wouldn't normally be allowed to and seeing things really close up."

"I really like creating things, so designing the displays has been my favourite bit so far," she said.

Aaron also found the challenge an interesting one. "Now I am a curator, I want to show younger children next year how to be one," he said.

"My favourite thing was finding out about the animals (mine was a lizard) for our first display – I did lots of research which is very important if you are a curator."

The young curators' work has been recognised by local Councillor Margaret Snaith, Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage.

"I would like to say congratulations to all the children at Wicor Primary School that have been involved with the project," she said "What the have achieved is truly commendable."

"The children are developing the kind of foundation in Museum Studies that you would normally expect at a much higher level. I hope the project has inspired them to look at museums in a new and positive light."

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