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.

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 I look forward to meeting lots of you soon!


Creating a School-Museum Comic

During the end of the Summer Term we were delighted to work with Cedar Mount Academy on a HEFCE National Networks for Collaborative Outreach (NNCO) Funded project. This funding allowed us to engage with a new, external partner to work with. We decided to embed the project within the Literacy framework by teaching pupils about story structure so we approached The Society of Authors Children and Illustrators Group who were able to recommend one of their amazing Writers and Illustrators: Shoo Rayner.

Cedar Mount w Shoo

Shoo Rayner sharing a story with Cedar Mount pupils

Shoo has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books and when we told him that we wanted to create a collaborative pupil-led comic  strip he was more than up for the challenge. With Shoo on board we then organised a planning day with Cedar Mount Academy’s tutors to decide on how best to prepare the chosen pupils for their task.

It was important for us to try and find a technique of sharing the basics of story structure across multiple levels, as we wanted to involve a cross section of pupils from the whole of Year 7. This is because one of our legacy aims is to create a teacher resource to demonstrate how this approach could be utilised in the classroom, using museum collections as a prompt.

With 20 pupils identified we spent a day planning an action-packed visit to the Museum that would see them learn about story structure (using Romeo & Juliet and Harry Potter as examples), explore the collection, choose potential characters for their stories and, finally, work closely with Shoo to produce two short comic strip stories that he could then illustrate over the summer.

Cedar Mount

Cedar Mount Academy pupils with Stan the T-Rex

The pupils visited the Museum on Friday 8th July and had a lot of fun coming up with a whole series of fantastic ideas for what our Museum specimens could get up to! To say they only spent four hours with us they were brilliantly creative and having Shoo facilitate their ideas in preparation to illustrate them was a great motivator. As a thank you for all their hard work each pupil was gifted a book to read over the summer to encourage them to read outside of school.

The final illustrated stories will be printed up and create a pocket-sized comic that we hope to share with other school children that visit the Museum in 2016. In September we’ll also be asking the pupils about the stories in the books they were gifted in the hopes that learning about story structure has given them a means to summarise stories and potentially given them a scaffold to create their own stories too.

Watch this space for our reveal of the final comic book!
In the meantime, have a look at this video from Shoo’s YouTube page to hear more about the project and see one of the stories he’s been working on…


Poet-in-Residence Guest Blog: Poemlets

Over 2016 we’ve been incredibly lucky to have Helen Clare as a Poet-in-Residence as part of the Learning and Engagement Team. Helen wanted to develop some learning experiences using poetry and was fortunate enough to receive funding from the Arts Council to work with us on developing this.

Helen has been recording her progress on her personal blog – so if you want to know more about the project do take a look.

In the meantime, here’s a short post Helen has written for us on how to create your own ‘poemlets’.

“Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time at the museum, writing children’s poems and learning materials as part of an Arts Council England funded project. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at things, visiting galleries and seeing those things I first missed and then looking again and again.

That opportunity to look again and again is both inspiring and dizzying, and it’s the basis of the the little writing exercise that I’m offering to the blog.

It involved ‘zooming in’ on just one object at once and asking it three questions.

  1. What do we say about the object?
  2. What does the object say about itself?
  3. What does it really mean?

Look at it really carefully and try and think about other senses as well – does it make a noise? What would it feel like if you could touch it?  Does it smell? If it moved how would it move? You might want to think about its history – and all the lives it’s been in contact with. You might also find that it has opinions quite similar to your own and that’s ok. But equally it might surprise you with what it has to say!

And that’s it. There’s no need to fancy it up. When the wind blows right it forms a perfect little poemlet all of it’s own – although you may also wish to use it as the basis of something more substantial.

Here’s an example:

I am alien. I am earth.
We are all spacedust.


Iron Core of Meteorite: Campo del Cielo (Field of Heaven) Argentina, 16th Century

You can see that I’ve used the first question as the title – and that the title is bigger than the poem! You could use that first question in the poem – or you could take it off altogether and make a riddle.

Look at my huge feet, how easily they carry my weight.
It was a long way. It has been a long time.

Can you guess what this is in the Museum?* I’ll put the answer at the bottom of the blog.

It’s fun to take pictures to accompany your poemlets as well.

This is my tree. I have not moved all week.
I am more threatened than threatening. Let me sleep.


Green Tree Python

There are more of these poemlets on my personal blog at

 You can tweet your poems and your photos and tag the museum @mcrmuseum, the learning team @learningMM or me @haclare.

Have fun!


*Did you guess right? It’s Maharajah, the elephant skeleton from Manchester Gallery


Interpretation from Re-Creation: Clarendon Sixth Form Photography Display

We are proud to present our annual photography display from one of our partners – Clarendon Sixth Form – called “Interpretation from Re-Creation”.


As usual, all of the students were given a tour of various sections of the Museum stores by our fabulous curators and had chance to explore the Museum’s galleries and find elements that sparked their interest. From there, they took their inspiration to develop a shot that would be developed in the dark room to produce a striking black and white image for display in the Museum.

Every year the students’ work never fails to impress; especially when they take one aspect of the Museum’s vast collection and communicate a statement about it in just one image. We certainly set them a challenging brief, but the students often react to it with considered thought and verve. What’s great about doing this project annually is that despite certain students identifying similar areas of the collection year after year their images are always unique and take a slightly different approach: demonstrating how imaginative and individual they all are as photographers.

Not only that, but the display also allows us to share with the public the work that we do with schools and colleges in the Learning Team. It’s a great example of a collaborative partnership that benefits the students’ skill development and provides a productive outcome for us to demonstrate how powerful the Museum’s collection can be.

You can view their pictures below, but it would be much better to see the exhibition for real. Why not come to the Museum over the next couple of weeks? The students’ work will be up in our Alhambra space (off the Link bridge on Floor 1) over the Easter holidays.




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: . 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 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!

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.

Primary Students Dig their way to Success!

Oswald Rd Arch pilot 010These past few weeks we have been really excited at the museum to begin the pilot sessions for our new Archaeology primary school session, ‘Dig Stories; Bringing the Past to Life’

This session explores the hands on practical skills of what it’s like being an archaeologist by way of a sand box dig, unearthing real objects!

The group then identifies their finds and graduates to handling real objects from our collection and debating methods of conservation.

At the end of the session children create their own ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ filled with objects they choose themselves for a particular theme of cabinet.

Oswald Rd Arch pilot 012We have been really impressed by the groups that have tasted this session so far, they have all passed their archaeological training and we can’t wait to see them in the future as experts of archaeology themselves!

If you are interested in booking a school group on to our new Archaeology session, ‘Dig Stories; Bringing the Past to Life’  please don’t hesitate to contact

Travel and Tourism PCGE Student Placement

We’ve been busy with bookings at the start of this term and fortunately we had some help in the form of Rebecca Smith, who was working with us during the week of the 14th January to 18th January. We arranged for her to experience a selection of our offers that included Visitor Services, our Post 16 Learning Programme and our Volunteer Handling tables. Image from Ancient Worlds: Exploring Objects

But, I’ll let Rebecca tell you about her time here in her own words:

I am a PGCE student training to be a secondary school teacher, teaching Leisure and Tourism. During my one year course I am required to complete a one week alternative placement setting. I chose to complete mine at Manchester Museum. I have worked in all different aspects of the tourism industry but I have very limited knowledge of visitor attractions and Museums in particular.

My reasoning behind choosing the Museum was to gain more knowledge and understanding of how the Museum operates as a tourist attraction; however I have come away after only one week with so much more!

I was welcomed as part of the team and I was given the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the museum from working with reception class on a Dinosaur Explorer session to working with the volunteers on the handling tables.

I particularly enjoyed planning and delivering the Travel and Tourism Master Class for a group of local college students. The Master Class was based on customer service. I was allowed the opportunity to walk around all the galleries and evaluate the provisions offered to different customer types. The students were then set a customer service critique task and gave presentations of their findings to myself, Cat Lumb and the Deputy Head of Visitor Services. The students really enjoyed their day and gave positive feedback. It was amazing to see the extent to which the educational team goes to ensure they give a positive experience to the school groups. All of the sessions are planned to challenge and stretch the students and allowing them the confidence to create their own response from the exhibitions. I had no idea how much work went on behind the scenes when putting together an educational visit.

I have gained a greater knowledge and appreciation for how the Museum operates and interacts with its visitors. One thing that has stood out during my time here is how all the staff members go above and beyond for their visitors. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff and they do everything they can to ensure the visitors go away happy.

All of the staff members are enthusiastic and passionate about their job roles and about the Museum itself. There is a positive atmosphere within the building and that was a pleasure to be around.

I have certainly achieved what I set out too and so much more. My love for teaching has been intensified as a result from my time at the Museum.

I look forward to returning to the Museum with my new students in the future!

Rebecca was fantastic at thinking on her feet and delivered an excellent tour for our Travel and Tourism students. Many comments were made by my colleagues on how approachable and friendly she was and therefore we would welcome her back anytime!

We wish her all the best with her future, and certainly would love to have her bring her future students to the Museum.

Students have their say about our Workshops

Here at the Manchester Museum we are always looking to develop and improve our practice and part of this includes asking students that visit what THEY think of any workshops they have participated in.

In November we had a two week hot-spot for evaluation where we asked for student feedback on any sessions that took place during that time. Within the Humanities and Arts programme we had a number of different workshops take place – ArteFACT, Patterns in Nature and our brand NEW session Empire Explained.

Here’s  a snapshot of what particpating students had to say about their experiences at the Museum:

ArteFACT session – Trinity High School, Year 7 pupils

When they were asked which part of the session they enjoyed the most, their responses were:

“I enjoyed writing labels for each of the objects”

I enjoyed classifying the objects because it was fun”

I enjoyed seeing interesting things and working together as a team”

I enjoyed labelling the objects and creating a history for it!”

When they were asked what they would tell friends and family about their expeience at the Museum they said:

“How to organise a part of a museum and how to investigate what an object is by looking at it”

“I would tell my family that I enjoyed the trip and I got a chance to enhance my knowledge in History”

“I really enjoyed looking at the different items and artefacts about history. I will be telling loads fo people about this memorable experience at the Manchester Museum”

Patterns in Nature Session – Sidall Moor Sports College, Yr 10 students

For this art session in observation drawing students were asked what they would take away from the workshop. Here are some of their quick-fire responses:

“Don’t use lines as much”

“Use different pens, pencils and other things like that differently”

“Using different types of shade”

“You can use tone instead of line”

Empire Explained – Trial Sessions with Yr 7, Newall Green High School students and the Home Educators Network

Here are some things that the groups said they learned about Egyptian, Roman and British Empire:

They all had armies and military awards

The Empire increased trade opportunities

They had different titles for their ruler – Pharaoh, Emperor and King/Queen

They all became expensive to defend and relied upon different technologies to expand

Things they said they really liked about the workshop included:

– The use of I-pads

– Interaction with objects

– Lots of different activites

– Comparison of the empires

Overall we collected a huge range of evaluative material that allows us a glimpse into understanding what it is that students get from participating in a museum session as part of their education. We’ll be examining all of our material over the coming weeks and have planned in more hotspots weeks over the year so that we can ensure that all students attending our workshops get a quality, educational and fun visit.