Herbert Museum's Kids In The Blitz Project Is A Winner!

By Roslyn Tappenden | 26 May 2005
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Shows a photograph of a group of people dressed in 1940s clothes and apparently performing a play.

Modern day evacuees relive the experience of their 1940s forebears. Courtesy Triangle Theatre and Coventry City Council.

A groundbreaking theatre project, Coventry Kids in the Blitz, has won two national awards for excellence.

The three-week Renaissance-funded project, a joint venture between The Herbert and eight other organisations, culminated with the ‘evacuation’ of 80 school children in an overnight simulation of a real-life World War II scenario.

The immersive theatre event was so successful that it won both a Museums and Heritage Show Award for best education initiative and a Roots and Wings award from Curiosity and Imagination, an organisation that promotes hands-on learning for children.

“I was very confident in the project,” explained Robin Johnson, senior lifelong learning officer at The Herbert, “We took risks and we were innovative.”

Shows a photograph of BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth presenting a plaque to Robin Johnson.

BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth presents Robin Johnson from the Herbert with the award for excellence.

The awards ceremony for the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence took place at the Café Royal in London on May 11. Robin Johnson went along with some of the actors and kids involved in the project.

“We all went along together, eleven of us in total,” said Robin, “We didn’t know we were going to win but I have a lot of experience with these kinds of projects and was very confident.”

The museum theatre project involved year six children from Holbrook Primary School and Southfields Primary School who underwent three days of training before being evacuated to Broadwater Camp in Meriden to be chosen by their WWII foster parents.

Shows a photograph of a line of Coventry schoolchildren being led through the bombed out remains of the old Coventry Cathedral.

Everyone stick together! Evacuation recreated in 21st century Coventry. Courtesy Triangle Theatre and Coventry City Council.

“We were trying to get kids to think about what it was like to be evacuated,” said Robin, “and immersive theatre means you stay in character all the time. It was November when the evacuation took place so it was quite cold, the children had an evening of entertainment,” he added.

Other partners in the project included Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry Libraries and the Triangle theatre group, a world leader in immersive theatre projects.

Robin and the team will be heading down to London again next month to collect their ‘Roots and Wings’ award at a ceremony.

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Roslyn Tappenden is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance student journalist for the West Midlands region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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