I am currently undertaking a two month work placement on the Community Engagement Team in the Learning and Programmes department at the National Museum. This placement is part of the required course work for my Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Education at Newcastle University. In September 2009, I moved to Newcastle from Boston in the US to begin the course, now I’m living in Edinburgh for the duration of the placement. This placement was of particular interest to me because it was one of the few that involved doing outreach work.
With the reopening of the Royal Museum in summer 2011, the museum will include a new gallery called Imagine where children and families can play and share ideas together, stimulated by a series of hands-on exhibits, inspired by objects from our World Cultures and European Art Collections. One area of this gallery called Story Place will focus on the telling and making of stories and feature a display of animal themed objects.
The Community Engagement Team has been busy working alongside a professional storyteller, Heather Yule, and a local Family Learning Group to put together story boxes full of soft toys, objects and games to go along with selected animal stories for the Story Place.
A few weeks ago the Family Learning Group was invited for a tour of the exhibition Treasured: Wonderful Things, Amazing Stories at the National Museum of Scotland. The exhibition has all types of animal specimens from a cheetah to a helmet made out of a tortoise shell.
The aim is to familiarise the family group with the museum’s collection and introduce the idea of story boxes, with ultimately the participants choosing the contents of the bags. The group will also work with Heather to produce their own story based on animals they have selected from Treasured. The story boxes and the participant’s story (told by Heather) will be showcased to the public at the Museum during National Family Week on the 5th and 6th of June.
Next week Heather and I will be meeting the group offsite for a workshop to tell stories and to gather ideas for the content of the story boxes.