We’re now well into the new school year and we have begun delivering a major new school event about the Neolithic period. The team has spent a lot of the summer holidays developing sessions for the event: a ‘special things’ session, a farming session, a hunting session and a shelter session. We will have a turn at delivering each of the sessions- so far I have delivered Special Things (which includes an object-finding and handling session in our First Farmers Gallery, plus making a clay pot) and Shelter (where children find out about Neolithic homes, and have a go at making their own shelter). It has been a really useful experience to see how a session is developed and then to run and evaluate it. It’s also interesting to be in the same position as the rest of the team- usually everyone else has delivered a session lots of times whilst I’m new to everything. This time it was new to all of us!
Another new school event will be starting shortly- the new primary curriculum requires children to learn about life within living memory, and in response to this we will be offering a 1950s event for Key Stage 1 children. I have been researching life in the 1950s, getting toys and television footage (including a truly terrifying Gerry Anderson show called Torchy the Battery Boy- look it up if you’ve never seen it!), and most importantly sourcing items for the 1950s-themed doll’s house which we’ll be using to illustrate what a home would have looked like during this period. I never had a doll’s house as a child, so a fascinating (and slightly bizarre) new miniature world has been opened up to me!
In addition to preparing for our new events, I have once again been helping to run our Early Years group, Muddy Museum Café. Our most recent session was about tractors, so we set up a tractor training run (with the children role-playing as tractors) in our farmhouse garden. They then painted and decorated cardboard tractors, which had been lovingly made by me and our Live Interpretation Officer, Rachel. (Who knew it could take almost a whole day to glue together cereal boxes and loo rolls!?)
I recently shadowed our Visitor Services Trainee, Lydia, to get an idea of the multitude of different tasks carried out by our Front of House team. I realised just how hard the team works to keep the museum looking lovely and clean, and making sure that all of our visitors are having a good time.
I’ve also had the opportunity to attend training sessions which will be very valuable for my professional development. As Tabitha, another Learning Trainee, mentioned in her blog, we and the other SftF trainees attended an Understanding Museums course; one of the convenors being Gressenhall’s first curator. In two short days Bridget and her colleague Nicola were able to give us a great insight into the heritage sector, including the history of museums, how to use objects and stories in museums, governance, ethics and much more. Coming from a different sector I found this course really helpful and it was something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do without my traineeship.
For the remainder of my time here I’ll be doing lots more training, including Forest Schools Level 1, Paediatric First Aid, becoming an Arts Award adviser and several sessions by SHARE Museums East, who put on free training for museum staff and volunteers in the East of England. However the main bulk of my training over the next three months will be a foundation course run by the Group for Education in Museums, giving me specialised training in museum learning. I believe there are still a couple of places left on the course if anyone is interested.
One of the great things about doing a traineeship at Gressenhall is the opportunity to work with different departments, to get as broad an experience as possible. Over the summer holidays I was able to work with the Events team to deliver informal learning sessions such as Art Attack!, a themed art session which took place every day of the holidays. I also helped with one of our biggest public events, Village at War, which took place at the end of August and saw thousands of visitors coming to commemorate both the First and Second World Wars. One of the highlights of the two-day event was a flypast by a Lancaster. I was in role at the event as a 1940s shopkeeper, handing out rations of sweets to the under-18s and selling Spitfire badges to raise money for the Battle of Britain Memorial Fund. Many thanks to everyone who bought a badge! I’ll be joining the Events team again soon for our Hallowe’en event on the 30th and 31st October. More details about the event are on the main page of Gressenhall’s website– do come along!