Today we officially launch our exciting new ‘Rainforest Investigators’ session here at the Manchester Museum. This a brand new environmental education session based on the differing rainforest habitats and developed for Key Stage 2 pupils, which is for upper primary/age 7-11 year olds. It links strongly to National Curriculum Year 4 Science ‘Living things and […]
With it being the Easter holidays here in central Manchester we are very pleased to host the annual Photography display of images by Clarendon Sixth Form students. These Year 12 students are studying for their BTEC Extended Diploma in Photography and the project with Manchester Museum contributes to their units in ‘Ideas and Concepts in Art and Design’ and ‘Studio Photography’.
Typically these displays have been linked with the Museum’s entire collection and have been shown in black and white (see previous posts), but this year we focused the students on a particular theme: Manchester’s connection to South Asia.
With the Museum’s upcoming Courtyard Project to build a permanent South Asia gallery (along with a new space for special exhibitions) we encouraged the students to explore the Museum’s current South Asia collection with Living Cultures Curator Stephen Welsh. They then used this as inspiration to research Manchester’s own links with South Asia – be that through food, tradition, people or religion. Each student then presented one image to us to demonstrate those connections which appears in the final exhibition.
Clarendon Sixth Form students’ work can be seen in The Study on the 3rd floor of Manchester Museum until the summer.
You might notice on your next visit to the Museum that we have some new additions to our displays.
Our curators are thinking a lot about contemporary collecting and how we as an organisation respond to current issues such as climate change and migration.
Some of our new installations might raise some complex feelings in some of your pupils, so we wanted you to be aware in advance of some of the things you may encounter on your visit and suggest how you might want to utilise these objects to start conversations with your pupils about the issues they highlight.
For example, a refugee’s lifejacket, from the Greek island of Lesvos, has recently gone on display in the main entrance. As Bryan Sitch, a curator here, has said:
“Our mission is to promote understanding between different cultures and to work towards a more sustainable world … We hope that this work will help us to reach out to Syrian members of the community as well as other diaspora communities.”
Visitors can watch a video about how the life jacket was collected and engage in discussion about it on Twitter via
We are aware that some of the stories and images linked to this object (though not displayed with it) could be upsetting for some children. However, Amnesty International have some excellent expert guidance on how to discuss these issues with older children, which you may want to introduce before a visit to the Museum.
Child migrant stories, a resource about the experiences of child migrants today and in the past, may also be useful.
We believe that the object on its own should not be upsetting unless a child has a particular related personal experience.
‘Nu Shabtis’ Journeys
From the end of March, our Graeco-Roman Egyptian Portraits and Egyptian Worlds galleries will be temporarily home instead to an installation by a Syrian-born artist, Zahed Taj-Eddin.
Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are inspired by the common Egyptian tomb item, the shabti (sometimes known as ushabtis). Classes who take part in our Egyptian Worlds workshop will encounter real shabtis close up: they are the servants of the afterlife, placed in tombs to work for the deceased.
But Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are new works of art made of beautiful bright blue faience. Part of the installation sees the Nu Shabtis suspended from the Egyptian Worlds gallery ceiling. The work reflects on the experience of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean towards a new life, much as the ancient Egyptians believed their shabtis would have travelled over to the afterlife.
They present an accessible way to help children think about human stories of journeys. What makes us leave a place? What makes us stay? What do we believe about our future? What do we believe about life after death? Again, the resources from Amnesty International might help you explore this with your pupils.
Seeing the works as artefacts and as works of art, you could look at similarities and differences between the ancient shabtis and Nu Shabtis. How do we know which are ancient and which are modern? Why would an artist be inspired by the ancient? What was Zahed’s purpose in drawing parallels between old and new objects and stories? Are the pupils inspired by anything in the Museum to create their own works of art?
Please note that the Nu Shabti installation will mean that our Graeco-Roman Mummies and Portraits will not be on display until July.
We would love to hear your stories of how you have used either of these installations with your classes and how they responded to them.
If you have any questions or concerns about these displays, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:
Amy McDowall – Primary Learning Coordinator
Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Arts & Humanities Coordinator
In January we were pleased to welcome a placement from Manchester Metropolitan University to work with us over the course of three weeks. Eve got a chance to see a selection of the learning offer by observing a variety of workshops and work alongside those in the Learning Team. At the end of the placement Eve was kind enough to write a post for us, and here it is:
My name is Eve Bokor and I am an Early Years and Childhood Studies student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Working at Manchester Museum has been simply a pleasure. I have worked with the Early Years, Primary and Secondary school team on a variety of workshops that have been excellent to observe, engage and even learn myself. Any school that has experienced having a workshop at the museum is lucky. The school workshops include a large variety of topics, examples of the ones I saw were ancient Egypt, Stone Age, ancient History, Animal Explorers and Baby Explorers. These workshops aid children to explore the different topics in a create informal manner. A common theme I observed in the workshops were all children were well behaved, curious and eager to provide the knowledge they have or give suggestions to what they think. All the staff that worked with the children were friendly and enthusiastic, offering support and expert knowledge for the children. What I particularly admire is the level of involvement the children have in workshops which includes being about to handle the artefacts (which is there is quite a selection of them).
I worked there for three weeks,and in that time I have seen a fair amount of the artefacts in the Museum, but I know there is so much more to see: Endless information about the vast number of topics. Another part of the Museum that I admire is the environmentally friendly example it sets for the citizens of Manchester. Offering information about current issues that are endangering the living species and the environment we live in. There is practical advice on how an individual can help which I think is vital in the current climate. Overall this Museum is a spectacular place for all ages and abilities, because it is a well of knowledge that feeds the population of Manchester.
I was recently contacted by a teacher from Tameside College’s Aspirations Department (I love that there is such a department exists!) who teaches a group of young people with learning disabilities (aged 16-20) on an Entry level 2 study programme. They have been studying a BTEC unit titled Exploring Art, where they had to plan and produce a piece of art within 15 weeks.
“In order to get some ideas and inspiration we visited Manchester Museum and as a result of that the learners chose Ancient Egypt as their theme. After viewing what the Museum had on display the students came up with some marvellous ideas. Each learner made a mood board displaying their idea and the tools and equipment they planned on using to create their piece of art work and finally creating their own piece: the results were fantastic.”
Their teacher was really pleased to be able to share these images of the process and final outcomes for the BTEC unit and some comments from the learners who took part.
This is a wonderful example of the achievements that can come from an inspirational Museum visit. The learners should be very proud of their work and we’d be happy to have them revisit the Museum at any time!
Learner Comments from Aspirations, Tameside College
“We chose to make Egyptian masks that showed the make up the ladies wore in Ancient Egypt. We were inspired by visiting the museum and by taking photographs of the hieroglyphics and we copied the colours and designs.”
“The museum had lots of interesting artefacts which gave me the idea of making a special display. I made a pyramid, tomb design, and an oasis mirage. I also wrote my name in hieroglyphics. My visit to the museum inspired me to design my mood board and create my display. I love Art and History.”
“When we first arrived at the Manchester Museum, it looked so beautiful that I feel like we should go there again. I enjoyed looking at the dinosaurs, but my favourite was the largest one (The Tyrannosaurus-rex). The other animals looked nice as well. Another thing that inspired me is that the museum tells you exactly what happened all those years ago. I also finished my mood board by finding the correct category for me. The pictures were fantastic and I loved looking at them. The museum had a big giant snake which I was standing behind when I had a picture took. I liked all the Egyptian models as well. I would love to see them all again. It looked absolutely perfect for a full day trip. And that is how Manchester Museum inspired me to work on and complete my artwork.”
“I found the visit to the museum fascinating and interesting because I learnt a lot about Ancient Egypt and Tutankhamun tomb. I was surprised to find out he was only 19 years old when he died in 1324, two years older than me. When I saw the pottery artefacts that were found and displayed in the museum it inspired me to make my own display”
“When I visited the museum I had a really good time. I enjoyed looking at all the artefacts and I was inspired to design Egyptian clothes. The ancient Egypt exhibition was fun and enjoyable. I would really like to do it again.”
We were really proud to work with Preston College again this year, with further development on the brief for the BTEC Level 3 Games Development module. Their tutor, Chris, worked up this fantastic scenario for them (see below) and all the students visited the Museum in November to gather research and preliminary sketches.
A games developer has an idea for a post-apocalyptic game, set 100 years in the future – taking cues from games such as ‘The Last of Us’. The developer is working from a story based around the global extinction of bees and the hugely negative impact this could have on humanity.
Students are required to come up with three designs, which explore different story possibilities:
1) Design for an autonomous machine that pollinates flowers, taking over the job that the bees previously had
– Image to be produced as a digital Photoshop painting.
2) Costume/character design – another direction the story may take is that the extinct bee population will be replaced with a much more aggressive species that can withstand mites and changes in climate. Unfortunately, they also kill indiscriminately to claim more territory and multiply at an alarming rate. As the governments are reeling from the financial meltdown caused by the collapse of the farming industry, only the very rich and privileged can afford protection from these killers. You must produce a costume/suit that keeps the bees from doing harm to the wearer, but also acts as a desirable status symbol.
– Image to be produced in pen and ink.
3) Design for shady black-market area – As plants and crops cannot be pollinated, many ‘luxuries’ are now a rarity. The developer would like to see an illegal market, with store people selling coffee and fruit, amongst the poor surroundings.
– Image to be produced in Pencil/charcoal, with emphasis on atmosphere.
The students had two months to develop their Project pieces and then, on 23rd January they returned to the Museum to present their final work. Listening to their presentations were Megan Powell – Artist behind Manchester Museum’s After the Bees exhibition; Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Humanities & Arts Co-ordinator; Leila Nicholson – bee expert from Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy; and Eve Bokor – a placement student with the Learning Team from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Here’s what Megan had to say about the students’ work:
“The students from Preston College presented an impressive project about bees, each created a world that was both imaginative and practically considered. It was evident that each student had extensively researched the bees and I was particularly inspired by the highly creative ‘pollinating machine’ designs.”
We were all really impressed by the thought that went into the game elements and how confidently the students presented their ideas on the day. It was fantastic to see the brief come to life in their work and every student demonstrated a creative angle of their own.
Take a look at the work they produced below:
Black Market Area
We have a new and exciting resource to share with you today, created by 60 Year 3 children from Crab Lane Community Primary School in Crumpsall.
This short video is designed to be used inside the fabulous ‘Extinction or Survival?’ exhibition, at Manchester Museum until 20 April 2017.
The exhibition contains some difficult stories about the many species that are no longer with us, from the dodo to the Tasmanian tiger. But it also tells a story of hope: what can we do to help endangered species?
It will be of special interest to KS2 teachers who are working on ‘Living Things and their Habitats’.
To use the video, we recommend bringing tablets to the Museum and sharing them between small groups of children with an adult. You can load the video via this page, and pause it each time you see the name of a species to allow you time to find it in the exhibition. You can also pause at the ‘Over to you’ questions, as a chance to get the children thinking more deeply about the exhibition’s themes. The video can also be used outside the Museum if needed.
The children of Crab Lane would love to know what you think of their video! Let us know by adding a comment below.
If you would like to visit ‘Extinction or Survival?’ you can do so for free, but please let us know you are coming by completing the booking enquiry form on our website. This helps ensure a great experience for you and for the other schools visiting our (very busy!) museum that day. You might also want to consider our popular KS2 session ‘Habitats and You’.
The story behind the video …
Every year, Kids in Museums ‘Takeover Day’ invites children into meaningful roles in museums and galleries. As our ‘Extinction or Survival?’ exhibition was due to open in September 2016, we thought it would be great if some children could create a really useful resource for other schools visiting the exhibition.
Using contacts through the wonderful Schools Network Choir, we found two Year 3 teachers from Crab Lane who were really excited to do something a bit different with their classes that term.
We met up and planned an amazing series of activities for the kids: first, both classes came separately to visit the museum, to research the exhibition and to learn what makes a great tour. We all practised saying in big loud voices, “WELCOME TO MANCHESTER MUSEUM!!!”
Then, back in school, the children worked in small groups with their teachers to devise their own tours. This means that the tours are all the children’s own words – amazing.
In the meantime, staff at the Museum were busy arranging loads of great activities for Takeover Day itself. Almost every department was involved, from conservation and collections to marketing, volunteers and even the Vivarium team!
On 18 November – a cold and snowy day – all 60 kids descended on the Museum for a pretty full-on day! All the children gave their tours LIVE for members of the public. This was incredibly brave but they had lovely clear voices and even took questions from the audience! They were also total pros being filmed by Steve from the Museum.
As well as their tours, the kids made a giant rainforest collage, helped clean objects in the conservation studios, went behind the scenes in the Entomology stores, and welcomed visitors.
At the very end of the day, all the children said they would love to work in a museum when they grow up. We can’t wait!
Manchester Museum would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the children, teachers and other staff involved in making the project such a success. We hope you enjoy their video!
On 7 December, we hosted our first South Asia-themed TeachMeet event, launching our future work on the South Asia gallery as part of the HLF Courtyard Project.
It was a fabulous evening with some amazing speakers, experts and creative practitioners sharing ideas and inspiration for teachers from across Greater Manchester. The teachers attending had some really great insights into what they would find valuable in a future learning programme linked to the new gallery, quote of the night being “It’s about time Manchester had a South Asia gallery!”
Below is a flavour of what we all learnt about … in alphabetical order by school/organisation (where applicable) for ease!
If you are a primary or early years teacher, and have not already completed our survey about our future programme, we’d be very grateful if you could do so here.
Anjum Anwar MBE
Anjum is an educator who has worked for many years in the fields of interfaith understanding for both the Lancashire Council of Mosques and Blackburn Cathedral. She presented a passionate argument for schools to not shy away from these difficult conversations. Website coming soon.
Our night finished with Bhangracise! Bhangracise have been teaching, performing and advancing the art form of Bhangra dancing for over 12 years. They provide performances, fitness classes and school workshops across the UK. Find them on Twitter @Bhangracise.
Stephen Irwin from Blackburn Museum spoke about his fantastic film project about the contribution of Indian soldiers in WW2. “We Also Served” records the journey of a group of young people from Blackburn in trying to uncover the forgotten story of the Indian Army. More information about Blackburn Museum, and contact details for Steve, can be found here.
The British Council attended to share information with teachers about their ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme: “Connecting Classrooms is a fully funded learning journey that includes face-to-face and online courses, international professional partnerships and visit funding opportunities based around the core skills.” See their poster, flyer and website for more information.
Chorlton High School
Chorlton High School is a Heritage School. Natalie Sanderson, Assistant Curriculum Leader at CHS, has spearheaded a fantastic project – ‘My Mancunium’ with their Year 7s, examining the many diffrent communities who have migrated to Manchester from Roman times onwards. The project is cross-curricular and enables pupils from this multicultural school to understand the push/pull factors in migration and feel pride in their city. Contact Natalie on twitter @historicalsando.
Computeam create incredible virtual and augmented reality resources for schools and were speaking to teachers about how the Indus Valley might be incorporated into their amazing Active Worksheets series. See them on Twitter @computeam.
Equilibrium Dance Arts
Equilibrium Dance and Arts is a social enterprise whose objective is to integrate dance, arts, mental health & well-being and research. Gaya from EDA joined us from Dubai via Skype to share her PHD research on dance in education, and teach us a few moves! You can contact Gaya via Facebook and Twitter.
Kingsway Community Trust
Rumana Asif and the Kingsway Community Trust were presented at the TeachMeet with a first-of-its-kind award from the British Council for ‘outstanding development of the international dimension in the curriculum’. Amazing! They incorporate the British Council’s connecting classrooms in all areas of school life at every age.
Manchester Road Primary Academy
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Year 1 teacher Anthony Parker is piloting a new cross-curricular topic with his class on India. They will cover geography and history, a ‘significant individual’ and even cricket in PE! In the future he will be able to bring his class to the Museum to see real artefacts from Indian history. Contact him on twitter @Anthillel.
Rubbia is an experienced art practitioner in museum, gallery, heritage and other settings. Her art is often inspired by South Asian techniques and practices. At the TeachMeet she shared with us techniques of basket weaving, printing and making clay pots.
Southern Voices is a network of people committed to bringing the knowledge and understanding of Southern* and Black* people to the global issues that are central to education and to living in the world today. Kirit presented information about their fascinating HLF project about the impact of WW1 on colonised peoples. Southern Voices can offer ‘free’ sessions on this for schools by experienced practitioners. Email Kirit for more details.
St Marys RC Primary
The Indus Valley Civilisation – a bronze age civilisation in what is now Pakistan – is an often-overlooked alternative to ancient Egypt in the KS2 curriculum. Mark Chadwick teaches this as a fascinating (and messy!) contrast to both Egypt and prehistoric Britain to his Year 3 class.
The University of Manchester School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Dr John Zavos and Dr Jacqueline Suthren Hirst are experts in South Asian history and religions, especially Hinduism. The TAROSA website is an excellent resource for challenging popular notions of Hinduism with older students, and the Museum of the South Asian Diaspora could support a topic on migration.
The University of Manchester School of Sociology
Professor Claire Alexander has received a University of Manchester award for ‘Outstanding benefit to society through research’. She spoke about the fantastic projects that won her this award: Banglastories, Making Histories and Our Migration Story. These are great resources and also give guidelines for teachers wanting their pupils to become oral historians.
We are very excited to announce that we will be hosting an after-hours TeachMeet on 7 December at Manchester Museum. South Asia-inspired artists, teachers, speakers and organisations will be here in The Study to share a wealth of ideas and projects at this unique event.
Speakers and experts include:
- Prof. Claire Alexander, University of Manchester – South Asian identity and migration; oral history with young people
- Dr John Zavos and Dr Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, University of Manchester – experts in South Asian history and religions respectively
- Mark Chadwick – St Mary’s Primary – the Indus Valley Civilisation
- Anjum Anwar MBE – interfaith dialogue in schools
- Dr Gayathri Ganapathy – storytelling and cognition through South Asian dance
- British Council – ‘Connecting Classrooms’ global education programme
- Blackburn Museum – film project on India’s role in WW2
- Sophie Marshall – Irk Valley Primary – RE in the Early Years
The event is also your opportunity to learn more about how teachers can be involved in our upcoming capital redevelopment known as the Courtyard Project; in particular relating to the new South Asia gallery which is planned for 2020 in a landmark partnership with the British Museum.
Come and escape the festive madness and get fresh ideas and inspiration for the New Year and beyond!
Free refreshments will be provided.
Limited tickets are available here – book now to avoid disappointment!
Please contact email@example.com / 0161 2757357 with any questions or if you would like to speak at the event.
We look forward to seeing you then!
Free event on Saturday, 29 October 2016 (10am-4pm) at the Manchester Museum
The University of Manchester will be running its Spectacular Science event on Saturday 29th October, offering a fun-filled family day of science challenges, live experiments, and hands-on demonstrations to delight children and adults alike.
Help us create a superhero, become a cell explorer, or build a world of fungus. Investigate our universe, make a mini robot dance, explore new wonder materials, and much, much more.
At the same time, our science buskers will be lining Oxford Road dishing out dazzling displays of scientific wizardry. So bring your mum and dad, your kids, and your friends to this free event.
Sheena Cruickshank, University of Manchester’s Academic Lead for Public Engagement with Research said: “this award winning event is a treasure of delights showcasing the variety of amazing and excellent science at The University of Manchester.”
What you have said:
“The whole event was such good fun and the hands on stuff was great. We all want to be scientists now!”
“I left having really enjoyed the day. I would definitely recommend others taking part.”
Manchester has a proud history of scientific discovery and by coming to the Science Spectacular you’ll be able to make some discoveries of your own!
So come on down to the Manchester Museum for some Spectacular Science!
This event is part of the Manchester Science Festival (MSF). Part laboratory, part playground, MSF is a showcase for the most creative, surprising and hands-on science for people of all ages.