Early Years update

We are particularly pleased to be welcoming more nursery and reception groups visiting the museum for self led visits this term. Even with our reduced capacity at the museum during our capital redevelopment project we are trying to accommodate as many visits as possible . For a self led visit you still need to book through our system and hopefully you are finding this process straightforward.


Explorer bags

You can book our Explorer Bags to use on the Fossils gallery or the natural history galleries.

Handling tables

At certain times you will also be able to get up close to and handle objects from our collection on our handling tables ( which are volunteer led),  including in our Under 5’s gallery Nature Discovery.

Extension activities and sharing experiences back in the classroom

To support your visit you may wish to bring your own resources, which may include:

Cameras / Ipads

Photographs can be used to document your visit and to use as an aid for children to talk about their visit or document it in other ways They can also be used to share memories of the visit with other children/ staff in school and with parents.

Drawing materials

Enjoy opportunities for observation, drawing and mark making inspired by our objects.

Story time on the galleries

Bring a book linked to your topic and enjoy a break and some quiet time on our galleries to share a story. We also have a collection of  books in Nature Discovery gallery linked.

Parental Engagement

The Museum is FREE and open at weekends and in the holidays but we know that all parents do not realise this. Are you able to bring parents on your visits and introduce them to the Museum? Can you share information and memories about your visit so that they will feel confident to visit themselves with their children?

Need a hand?

Don’t forget that  our Early Years Coordinator is available to support your planning. Drop Elaine an email or call on 0161 306 1777 with any questions. We are also happy to meet you at the museum to plan your visit.

Can you help?

We are also looking for schools who want to pilot new activities as part of the development of the new early years learning programme from September 2019 onwards so let us know if you are interested in being contacted when opportunities arise.

All in a Twitter!

You might have noticed some changes to our Twitter account recently.

twitter feb 2018

“McrMuseum” Learning (@LearningMM) is now “Manchester Museum Learning & Engagement” (@MM_Connects).

A small change, you might think! But for us its the first of many changes that will be happening at Manchester Museum in the next few years.

Reflecting our ongoing plans for the exciting Courtyard Project building and development work, our Learning and Engagement teams will be working much more closely together in the future. ‘Birds of a feather’, you might say …

We’re really excited for the collaborative opportunities that our ambition to become a “Museum for Life” will afford.

But what will schools crossed with volunteering crossed with communities crossed with families crossed with adult events look like?

Don’t settle for a bird’s eye view! Follow our blogs and Twitter to follow our journey to get involved.


The Courtyard Project blog

Learning Team blog



Join Manchester Museum’s Junior Youth Board

Junior Youth BoardManchester Museum’s Junior Youth Board is an enthusiastic group of young people who volunteer at the Museum. They meet at the Museum once a month on a Saturday.

It is a great opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes, explore the many aspects of the Museum while meeting new people and having fun!

The Junior Youth Board is for those aged 8-13.

For more information on how to join Junior Youth Board please contact Victoria.Grant@manchester.ac.uk



Babies explore the Coral exhibition at Manchester museum

Our first Baby Explorer sessions of   2014 (Tuesday 7 Jan) took place in our beautiful temporary exhibition Coral  – something rich and strange designed by Ben Kelly ( Hacienda) and featuring a diverse range of exhibits, including,  18th c sea anemones , a Rossetti painting and new works by artists Mark Dion and Karen Kasper.

The space wasn’t designed for under 5’s but our baby Explorer ‘Under the Sea’ story was perfectly themed for the space and we took advantage of the nooks and crannies around the central exhibition space to build islands of sensory play for babies and parents to explore.

We shared the gallery space with our general visitors, informing them of what was taking place  as they entered the space (16 babies and ‘strange’ looking resources on the floor!) and assuring them that the space was still open and that they were welcome to join us. We have found that on the whole our general visitors are delighted to see young children in the museum.

We have used our Nature Discovery gallery as a base to develop our Baby Explorer programme, but as we have grown in confidence as practitioners our aim is to support parents into the main spaces of the museum and to encourage them to visit at other times outside of the sessions, especially if our babies have siblings.

During the summer we held some of our sessions in our temporary exhibition, ‘Trees’ and we have developed a set of Baby Explorer sacks linked to our Ancient Worlds themed session which we use  to support parents  to explore the gallery spaces. Being out and about in different museum spaces is also a great way to raise the profile of the early years work within the museum itself.

We asked parents and carers for feedback from the session in the Coral exhibition, which was really positive and here are some of their comments;

‘Had a brilliant time at first session today. Really enjoyed being in the gallery – something for adults to see as well’.

‘The raised exhibition provided an interesting space to explore. Lots of interesting corners.’

Babies  will be exploring  the Coral exhibition again on Tuesday 21 January.


Science Spectacular

Science SpectacularThis Saturday as part of the Manchester Science Festival, The University of Manchester is hosting ‘Science Spectacular’ here at Manchester Museum and in our ajoining building Whitworth Hall.

Come and join us on a whistle-stop tour of research at the University and take part in some great science challenges. Explore the insides of a nuclear reactor, go on a journey through the hidden body, take a closer look at the moon, and snuggle up to some unusual creepy crawlies.

You’ll get to meet the scientists and engineers behind the amazing research and the chance to take part in fun activities throughout the day including face painting, craft making and science busking. See if you can also spot the pop-up scientists who will talk about their science in 60 seconds or less!

With over 40 interactive exhibits and hands-on science activities it will be fun for all the family!

Science Spectacular | Saturday 2 November 2013 | Whitworth Hall & Manchester Museum | 11am-4pm | Free Entry

A visit to Baby Lab

What a great post on culturebabies.org about the Partnership on A visit to Baby Lab, where babies are the ideal visitor.

“Even though babies cannot tell us how they see things or what they are thinking, infant researchers have come up with ways of finding this out. If babies look at one thing more than another (‘preferential looking’) then we know that they must be able to tell the difference between these two things. If babies look at something new longer than something they have seen before (‘novelty preference’), then we know that they can tell the difference between the familiar and the new thing.”

To view the full article go here: http://culturebabies.org.uk/2013/06/21/a-visit-to-baby-lab/

Can Babies enjoy museums?

In the development of our sessions for babies in museums and galleries in Manchester, we were (quite rightly!) challenged by colleagues about the level of participation there would really be for babies. We were asked,
Aren’t the sessions really just for the benefit of parents?’
‘Can babies really enjoy museums?

I posed the question ‘Can babies really enjoy museums?’ to parents attending a Baby Explorer session at Manchester Museum and added, ‘How do you know? ‘
The question did take our parents by surprise! They couldn’t understand why anybody would doubt that their babies were enjoying and participating in the sessions, which for them as parents, was clearly evident.

The many fabulous images we have taken and the short films we have produced, do capture the engagement levels of babies in our sessions, but like anything else, this is far more powerful (and evident) if you experience it directly.
One of our members of staff, who was initially sceptical about the opportunities for babies to truly participate in the sessions, attended one of our baby explorer session and commented afterwards,

‘I think babies can enjoy museums because it’s a totally different environment from other surroundings and they interact with different things than they would usually….they focus on what is being shown them and seem enraptured by what is going on including the storytelling and singing.’

Here is a selection of the feedback we had from parents ……

· It’s helped her to notice things more in other places too. These sessions really help to develop her concentration. I notice when she misses a session.

· Fabulous sensory learning aimed at the age group appropriately. My baby LOVES this. He is active, wide eyed, bouncy and afterwards he sleeps! Thank you.

· Development of motor skills by holding and touching objects. Babies’ eyes lit up concentrating for lengths of time. Staying quiet during singing (attention and listening).

· So many things to see and feel- nothing like home environment. I know how much he enjoys it because he cries when we leave!

Lets keep developing the practice and collecting the evidence of impact, to make the case for more babies in and museums and galleries nationally.

Elaine Bates, Early years coordinator, Manchester Museum

Freelance work opportunity – Magic Carpet

Hi Everyone,

An exciting freelance opportunity has arisen at Manchester Museum to develop and facilitMagic Carpet 7ate part of the Museum’s ‘Magic Carpet’ programme for under 5’s and their parents and carers. A total of six themed and resourced sessions will be developed and delivered twice throughout the year. We are looking to recruit a group of practitioners who will be asked to develop up to a minimum of two sessions each and deliver each session twice in the first year (July 2013 – June 2014).

We are looking for creative practitioners who have experience of delivering engagement programmes for children aged 0-5 years and their families in a museum, gallery or cultural venue and who have specialist practice in drama/storytelling, art practice, music, singing or dance and movement.

Please see this document Freelance Opportunity Magic Carpet for further details and how to make expressions of interest by 20th May, 5pm. Looking forward to hearing from you!