The National Museum of Rural Life couldn’t have been more Christmassy on Sunday 12 December, with snow on the ground, crisp, clear skies, the sound of a traditional organ grinder and Santa and his elf grinning away next to a huge Christmas tree.
The Christmassy weather had, however, presented several Health and Safety and logistics problems in the lead up to the event, including how to erect a large marquee for the foals on an icy forecourt, so the executive decision had to be made to cancel the stars of the show. The foals are a huge pull for our audience so the entrance fee was reduced to normal daily rates, notices were put up online and at the entrance to the museum, and we all waited nervously to see how many visitors would still come and how they’d react. We needn’t have worried, as nearly 1,000 people flowed through the doors and had a great day out.
The museum building was a hive of activity. A Christmas craft fair was buzzing in the main gallery, KYBO theatre had four full-houses for “Santa’s Magic Workshop”, hot toddies were being handed out at the Christmas cooking demonstration and the museum staff were doing a great job running craft workshops in the learning centre.
Up at the farm the staff and volunteers ran a pomander-making workshop in the kitchen whilst one of our regular facilitators Jackie Lee ran traditional Victorian parlour games.
Outside in the farmyard the festive spirit continued with three visiting donkeys posing for photographs accompanied by some classic Bing Crosby Christmas tunes. I also had a quick peek at the piglets who are now definitely teenagers in both size and mannerisms (they didn’t even look up to say hi as they were too busy eating). Visitors also had a go at stock judging, this time trying to assess the ‘best in show’ from the donkeys and calves.
By the end of the day all the staff (and the donkeys) were ready to drop, but it was a great end to a successful year for the National Museum of Rural Life. Here’s hoping 2011 is even better!