Bryan Sitch, Head of Human Cultures and Curator of Archaeology, and I recently hosted a visit from AS and A2 level Classics students from Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College.
We had been contacted by their course tutor about the possibility of bringing the students in to supplement their in class learning and to provide them with opportunities to get up close to real ancient artefacts. After a bit of negotiation over possible dates, we finalised a timetable for the students.
On arrival, Bryan took the group into the Archaeology stores, a wonderful resource of material and information from all over the ancient world. One of the highlights for me was seeing the new storage drawers for the several hundred ancient lamps that are part of the collection – these new drawers mean that many lamps can be glanced at once and are in conditions that are much more favourable to their long term preservation. It may seem trivial, but I can assure you without the collection we would not be able to offer such unique opportunities to visitors, it really is at the heart of what we do.
Anyway, to get back to our visiting group, in the stores Bryan showed them how the collection was organised and a few interesting pieces before leading us into a handling session in The Museum’s Discovery Centre. Here Bryan had carefully selected some fascinating objects highlighting the diversity of the collection and the variety of materials (metal, pottery etc). Students were able to carefully handling some of these delicate objects and really get a sense of wonder from them.
Finally, after the handling, we moved up to the galleries, firstly stopping in the Manchester Gallery to look at Manchester’s very own Roman Altar (recently highlighted on the BBC’s A History of the World website), before heading up to the current Mediterranean Gallery. Here Byran asked the students how they might like to see some of the material redisplayed, as we are currently working on exciting plans to redevelop this gallery along with the Egyptology galleries sometime in 2012, you can follow more on the Ancient World Blog.
Both Bryan and I hope that the group had a successful visit and we wish them all the best with their forthcoming exams.