Ancient Egyptian Deep Clean!

It has been a busy summer at the Museum with a huge number of exciting activities linked to our latest temporary exhibition, Climate Control.

Here in the Learning Team, we are now beavering away getting ready to welcome lots more schools in September.

As part of this preparation, we check that all the Museum objects that are handled by children are safe and in good condition.

These photos show Matt (from the Learning Team) and Irit (a Conservator) checking out the ancient Egyptian objects. Although all our school visitors are wonderfully careful with the artefacts, the ancient Egyptian items do have a particularly hard time as they are handled by tens of thousands of small hands every term!

Have a good look at the ‘before’ picture of the fish votive (temple offering) that Irit is holding. Can you see what colour it is? What do you think it is made from? Is it patterned or plain? We’ll come back to the fish later!

Over the last few weeks, Irit has examined all the objects carefully and cleaned them where needed with swabs, water and rubbing alcohol.

Irit was really pleased with the condition of the objects and commented on how carefully the children must have been handling them on the Egyptian Worlds visits. Just one item (a wooden ear from a coffin) is going to go back into storage, to be replaced with a different possible tomb item.

 

fish votive

Remember that fish votive? Can you see the difference? It’s actually patterned and made of bronze! Irit’s careful cleaning has revealed the beautiful scaled pattern again. It is still mostly brown as it is slightly rusty, but we expect that the acid in the children’s hands this term will naturally polish it up again soon. We’ll let you know!

Handling real objects is such an important part of the ‘wow factor’ of visiting a museum, so we are really looking forward to sharing these exciting artefacts with many more schools this year.

We get booked up quite far in advance, but we do still have a few slots available for later in the autumn term so get your bookings in quickly by filling in our enquiry form to avoid disappointment! See here for our information about our schools programme. We hope to welcome you in the Museum soon.

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Lovely to meet you!

Campbell and Amy

Amy meeting Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum

My name is Amy and I’m the new Primary Learning Coordinator here at Manchester Museum. I have so far spent two weeks getting to know the building, the collection, the fantastic team here and – mostly importantly – the awesome schools programme! It’s a great time of year to start as we are all gearing up ready for the return of schools in September.

You’ll hear more from me in the coming weeks, but for now I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’ve learnt about Manchester Museum so far …

  • It’s a very smiley place!! Everyone here clearly loves their jobs and is delighted to work in such an inspiring place. Even the frogs seem to grin!

lemur image

  • There’s LOADS going on here – far too much for one blog post! To give you a flavour, in the next year the Learning Team will be consulting with schools on our planned building extension; taking part in activities relating to the UK/India Year of Culture; planning TeachMeets and CPD for teachers … the list goes on!

 

  • Ancient Egypt is REALLY popular! Asru, one of the ancient Egyptian mummies on display in our Ancient Worlds gallery, is the star of our most popular primary school session, ‘Egyptian Worlds’. And rightly so – she gives kids a fascinating insight into a key feature of this amazing civilisation. (However, if any schools out there cover the Indus Valley as their ancient civilisation in KS2 History, instead of Egypt, we would love to hear from you!)
  • This team is pretty good at what it does: the stack of letters we receive from inspired children really shows how memorable museum learning can be, and last year well over 90% of our visiting teachers rated us as having “excellent” quality of delivery. Not bad across 30,000 annual school visitors!

 

  • The Museum is a BIG building with LOTS of stairs – wish me luck in finding my way around!!

That’s all from me for now. If you’d like to get in touch to discuss any aspect of our primary schools programme, please do so on 0161 275 7357 or amy.mcdowall@manchester.ac.uk. I look forward to meeting lots of you soon!

 

South Asia Inspired Creative Practitioner Wanted

Manchester Museum is proud to be supported by Children and the Arts for our final year of our Start programme funding. Our Art of Identity project ran successful in 2013-14 and in 2014-15 with a number of fantastic Creative Practitioners helping over 450 pupils in five different Secondary schools and three Primary schools to explore the topic of ‘identity’ and produce professional pieces of artwork that have been displayed in the Musuem.

MMSouthAsiaThis year, Art of Identity will expand to partner with up to ten Secondary schools in Manchester and will be linked with Manchester Museum’s exciting Capital Redevelopment Courtyard Project. This will involve the development of a permanent South Asia Gallery at Manchester Museum in partnership with The British Museum.

As a result we are looking for Creative Practitioners who have a link to South Asia or who are inspired by this part of the world to develop and deliver two workshops to all of the pupils involved in the project (c.250 KS3 pupils) – one at the Museum and another at each of the partner schools.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, take a look at our Creative Practitioner Brief and apply before Monday 5th September at 10am.

 

School Partnerships: The Art of Identity

At the end of January 2014 Manchester Museum played host to two out of the three partner schools as part of our ‘Children & the Arts’ Start programme: The Art of Identity. Derby High School and Wardle Academy visited the Museum with their Year 8 students on 23rd and 28th January respectively to take part in a variety of activities around the topic of Identity.

The ‘Children & the Arts’ Start programme works with arts venues around the UK to foster new partnerships with their local schools.  As a result Start has given three Manchester schools the motivation, means and opportunity to engage their students in a series of creative experiences outside of the school environment (at the Museum) in order to use these experiences back in school. Students from each school will work with a creative practitioner to create a final piece of artwork that will go on display in Manchester Museum in the summer.

portraitEach school begins their Start project with a whole year group visit to the Museum to introduce them to the project and explore the topic of Identity. The starting point for the project is centered on our Greaco-Roman Mummy Portraits, which we hope will inspire the students to consider how identity can be presented in the past and the impact of multi-cultural traditions on individuals and groups.

For the Enrichment Day, the Museum designed a variety of different workshops, sessions and activities to complement the collection and examine different facets of identity. In our Celebrities and Shabtis session, students determined how identity can be defined by particular objects and what these might say about individuals. Whereas in our CSI Athens workshop students used objects to determine who was most likely to have committed a fictional crime. Students were also engaged in on-gallery discussion with our curator – Campbell Price – about how representative ancient Egyptian art might be and if it might depict ‘real’ people. We had a print-maker, Alan Birch, who took self-portraits that the students had drawn themselves and demonstrated how to create prints of these using a printing press (you can view further examples here). We also encouraged student to consider animal identity and how humans classify the natural world and challenged them to make their own Figurines as part of our Fragmentary Ancestors temporary exhibition.

A creative practitioner was also assigned to each school and led a workshop linked to the Greaco-Roman Portraits with students who would be involved in creating the final artwork back at school. These sessions were unique to the practitioner and tailored to suit the needs of the individual school and the supporting subjects that were defined at the project outset.

The two Enrichment Days proved to be a great success, with some great feedback from both teachers and feedback – some of which I’ve included here (see below). It was a great way to involve the school and their students during the start of the project, and now each school will work with their creative practitioner and a set of students to create their final artwork for Museum display. These students will be returning to the Museum for a second visit over the course of the school year, so watch out for more posts about it!

Students at Derby Academy:
71% of students said that they had enjoyed the activities of the day. 35% said they would visit the Museum with family and friends, with another 43% saying they might come back.

Students at Wardle Academy:
50% of students said that they had enjoyed their visit and 50% said they would come back to the Museum with family and friends.

Some of the teachers’ comments reflect the quality of the workshops:

  • “I thought this was very educational – lots of learning opportunities” – Derby High Teacher on the Animal World session
  • “…developed thinking skills and team skills.” – Derby High Teacher on CSI Athens workshop
  • “All children engaged, constantly asking questions. Liked the pace and engagement of Campbell’s talk” – Derby High Teacher on the Egyptian Gallery discussion
  • “Pupils loved making the figurines…well linked to the topic.” – Derby High Teacher on the Fragmentary Ancestors activity
  • “An excellent, well organised day. Great to see our children so switched on and thinking!” – Wardle Academy teacher
  • “Great to handle real objects. Good link with present back to the past. Pupils very engaged and reflecting on the use of objects and meanings” – Wardle Academy teacher on Celebrities and Shabtis
  • “Very engaging for students – totally absorbing” – Wardle Academy teacher on the print-making workshop

PHOTOGRAPHS OF ACTIVITIES

Research in Action: Burying the Middens

Some of the Midden Students with Cat and Sam from the Museum

Some of the Midden students with Cat and Sam from the Museum

On Friday 8th November Year 9 students from Matthew Moss High School invovled in our Midden Project created their own ‘archaeological rubbish heaps’ on school grounds. Our Senior Conservator, Sam Sportun, and I went into school to help them create their own middens. They had chosen four different materials for their middens to be made from: gravel, sand, compost and mulch. These were chosen to represent various environments and to vary the results that the students will get from their chosen objects.

Each student had identified at least one object that they were placing in one of the four middens. Before depositing them they each made a visual record of their object through drawings, took a photograph and hypothesised about what might happen to each object based on the material of both the object itself and the midden it was to be placed within.

Matthew Moss' budding photographer recording the creation of the middens for the school record.

Matthew Moss’ budding photographer recording the creation of the middens for the school record.

There were discussions about what might happen differently in each of the middens – how the mulch would be decomposing itself and thus provide heat and how the gravel would allow rain to seep through. In addition, students questioned how their own objects might change over the course of their time in the midden (around 6-8months) and theorised what might happen to each substance their objects were made from.

I think the students would all agree that the best part of the session was actually burying their objects in the middens themselves. Over the next few months we’ll be investigating in more detail what happens to objects underground using the Museum’s archaeological collection and updating the students’ hypotheses in anticipation of excavating their middens in 2014!

Postcards from the Park

Last Friday I popped down to the Martin Harris Center to sneak a peak at the artwork generated by local schools around the Whitworth Park Community Archaeology and History Project. Schools were invited to respond to the Park’s Victorian and Edwardian past using artwork, poetry and storytelling. Many of them visited the site during the excavations and all groups had ‘hands-on’ workshops using Edwardian postcard images and modern replicas of clay pipes, glass medicine bottles and Victorian children’s toys. Back at school, the students were challenged to produce their own modern ‘postcard’, on which they also wrote a poem or short story. The workshops highlighted the use of parks as community spaces where people of different backgrounds mingle, and the past formed a point of departure from which to analyse the changing meaning of these vibrant urban green spaces. The pictures speak for themselves…

Postcard 5a Postcard 1a Postcard 3a

Postcard 2a Postcard 4a

Commence Midden 2013: Research in Action

You might remember last year we did a pilot project with Matthew Moss High School whereupon students from the school built their own Midden to investigate what happens to material when they are buried, like archaeological objects.

We are fortunate enough that Matthew Moss chose to work with us again and have commissioned the Museum to run the project this year as part of  Year 9 students’ Project Qualification. Therefore, on Friday 20th September, sixteen eager Year 9 students visited the Museum to begin the Midden Project 2013.

They explored the analysis of archaeological objects and determined the most significant questions to ask about artefacts in order to examine it’s use. Then they had a tour of our conservation labs to encourage them to think of what happens to objects once they’ve been excavated.

Last week they had to identify potential objects for their own Middens that would relate to their individual project topics. These are the materials they will bury in the four created Middens that will be located at their school. They will be buried for approximately six months, and in that time students will be researching their topics and hypothesising how their objects might change over the course of being in the Midden.

We’ll be updating you on the progress of the Project througout the year, so keep checking in to see how the students are getting on.

If you want to know more about the project, or think that your school might be interested in setting up its own Midden contact: Cat Lumb

New school year – thinking about a trip?

Somewhat unbelievably (at least we think so – the year is flying by!), it’s September and the start of another school year. We’ve been gearing up to the 2013-14 academic year with a refurbishment and refreshment of our school programme from Early Years to Post 16 and a new look to the Learning Pages on Manchester Museuslothm website: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/museum/learning . You’ll still find many of the ever popular sessions like Egyptian Worlds (KS2), Dinosaur Detectives (KS2), Forensic Science: A Bog Body Mystery (KS3/4 Science) and Citizen of the City (KS3 Citizenship) but also a few new ones and some like Dinosaur Challenge for KS1 pupils that are coming soon.

Do take a look and let us know what you think. If you are starting your planning for the year ahead then take a look at the website and see what takes your fancy for you and your class. If you need more information on anything then either email us at school.bookings@manchester.ac.uk or give us a call on 0161 275 2630 – we start taking bookings on 5th September.

We’re really looking forward to a jam packed year of school visits (there’s nothing we like more) and to seeing many of you and your classes in the Museum. That’s the programme spruced up – now just the office to go!

Creative Practioner Wanted!

Last year's midden

Last year’s midden

Manchester Museum are seeking a Creative Practitioner to create some artwork in collaboration with Year 9 students working on The Midden Project: Research in Action.

This project is a partnership with Matthew Moss High School and the Museum to create, analyse and investigate the archaeological properties of ancient man-made deposits for disused items, often known as middens.

For more information and how to apply please see:  Artist Brief, Midden

For Informal enquiries please email catherine.lumb@manchester.ac.uk

A hard days work at the museum

Last week, we set about the task of interviewing candidates for the new Learning Programme Delivery posts at the Museum with the help of 15 Year 5 pupils from Birchfields Primary (I expect you will hear from Jack and Gareth in person when they start at the beginning of the new school year).

Object task sheet

 

Prior to the interview, candidates were informed that in addition to the formal interview, they would be given 5 minutes to introduce and use an object to engage a group of key stage 2 pupils. Each candidate was provided with an image of a different ancient Egyptian artefact, along with a very basic description and dimensions. The rest was left up to them!

 

Under the supervision of their teacher and Elaine (from the Learning Team), the class spent the day being entertained, informed, engaged and intrigued by the candidates. After each presentation, pupils examined each object in more detail, and wrote a museum label for it.

Small Bes amulet with some labels written by the group.

Small Bes amulet with some labels written by the group.

By the end of the day, not only had the class done a fantastic job of evaluating the presentations, but they had also worked really hard to create their own mini-museum display. A huge thank you to Birchfields Year 5 group for all of their input and enthusiasm!

Year 5 pupils standing in front of their mini-display of ancient Egyptian artefacts.

Year 5 pupils standing in front of their mini-display of ancient Egyptian artefacts.