Saffron Walden Museum is delighted to announce the launch of new learning and engagement services following the appointment of a Learning and Outreach Officer, Charlotte Pratt.
School children exploring the museum’s collections
The Museum is now able to offer a range of services to schools and groups, including taught sessions in the Museum, new revised schools loan boxes to support National Curriculum topics, and outreach sessions which can be delivered in the school classroom. The sessions are tailored to the National Curriculum and are an ideal way to enrich the delivery of a range of subjects. The learning menu is currently being fully developed but in the meantime, teachers and group leaders are welcome to contact Charlotte on 01799 510644 or email her to request sessions.
Saffron Walden Museum is fortunate to have a rich and varied collections as well as a separate handling collection which includes historical artefacts. Topics which can be offered include:
• Ancient Greece
• Local History
• Vikings and Anglo Saxons
• Ancient Egypt
• Natural History
• Art and Design
• Museums – kid curators
• Toys and games
A bespoke handling session for Support for Sight
As well as structured school sessions, the Museum will also be offering a range of activities for visitors and groups including school holiday activities and events for adults. The Museum is working in partnership with a range of other local and national organisations to widen its learning offer, including the Dementia Action Alliance, Support for Sight and the Wellcome Trust. Museum staff aim to make the collections and their stories accessible and engaging to all, through a range of activities to suit different needs.
On Tuesday 15 May there will be a Reminiscence object handling session, arranged in conjunction with Uttlesford Dementia Action Alliance, and visitors will be able to just drop in (usual admission charges apply).
My Museum shares the experiences of our staff, volunteers and interns of working at Saffron Walden Museum. Gemma is our Visitor Services & Learning Officer.
“For me, the museum is more about people than objects. That’s because my role involves dealing with most of the public facing aspects of the Museum Service. During school term time, I have different school groups visit two or three days a week to take part in themed learning sessions. These can range from carrying out mock mummifications during an Ancient Egyptians day, to taking children around the museum stores to learn about how museums work.
It can be a challenging role as I have to teach about every period of history and prehistory, from the dinosaurs to World War II, and I also deliver science session too on things like the rock cycle, inventions and the five senses. My background is in archaeology (I even have a PhD in the subject!), so I have a good knowledge base to work from, but I’m always learning new things and trying to develop my museum offer to make school sessions as fun and interactive as possible.
Of course, all these sessions involve objects and that is what really brings them to life for the school children who visit. They might get to touch and smell real Ancient Egyptian bread, a Tudor chamber pot or Victorian soap. The things they handle will all be items that are not in our official accessioned collection but that have been donated to the learning service, perhaps because the museum already has one or because it is not directly relevant to the museum’s collection policy. Pupils also also get to see items from the museum’s accessioned collection outside of their display case or storage box, as this also helps to illustrate historical and scientific discussions, but they can’t touch them!
As well as teaching, I also run most of the museum’s events from family holiday activities and birthday parties to things like pop-up restaurants and theatre performances in the museum. This side of my role allows me to get to know our regular visitors from the local Uttlesford community and means that I also meet many of our international visitors. Everything I do is made possible with support from my colleagues alongside a fantastic team of volunteers who help with everything from staffing the ‘Welcome Desk’ to making cakes and mucking in with museum staff during events.
What I like best about my role is the variety of jobs I get to do and the range of people of all ages and nationalities that I get to meet. From calculating visitor figures, to designing learning sessions, planning events and helping with exhibitions, every day and every visitor is different and that makes for a very interesting work life!”