Friday, 29 August 2014

Museum Discovery Day

Last month Salma and Maya trialled their new Need Make Use workshop for Museum Discovery Day with over 100 Year 8 pupils from Marlborough Schoolorganised into 3 groups.

Need Make Use Workshop © Pitt Rivers Museum

This new workshop aimed to get students thinking about human creativity and ingenuity, and how people design and make what they need from the materials they have around them. 

Object Handling Table © Pitt Rivers Museum
An introduction to the Pitt Rivers followed by discussion and object handling got the students thinking about what needs people have - from the basic need to survive to more complex things like art, culture, communication and identity. 

Students had to consider how to design and make an object so that it would do what it is meant to do. But they also had to think about how the design would be influenced by factors such as materials, environment and identity. Each scenario was created by students choosing an identity, an environment, and a need from three different pots. 

One group selected a chief from a mountainous region who needed to design a mask to use in a ritual that would help the community deal with a difficulty.  If this sounds like a really tall order, Marlborough School rose to the challenge in an ingenious way.  They decided that the problem the community had was making money so they designed a mask made out of goatskin and leaves marked with the symbols and colours of success - red, gold and money signs.  The students felt that this should be a bright cheerful mask used to round up the community to creative positive vibes, get people networking and talking about how to make life and business more prosperous, so they could sell more mountain goat products like cheese, milk and things made out of hide. 

Another group designed a fierce animal mask that a ten-year-old boy could use in the forest to help him prepare for his first hunting trip. They felt that masks help us transform ourselves, so the boy could pretend to be a fierce hunting animal and then feel brave and strong ready to join the men on the hunt. 

Annotated student design © Pitt Rivers Museum
Here is an example of a student design for a specific need, identity and environment.

Having fun and being imaginative and creative was the order of the day.  Well done Marlborough school for coming up with so many fantastic creative designs and standing up in front of everyone to explain them.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Goodbye Simone

We are very sad to say goodbye to our brilliant Family Education Officer, Simone Dogherty, who has left to become Family Learning Programme Manager at the Museum of London.  Her last day was Friday 12th July and as she also worked in the Education department at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, she totalled five celebratory leaving events.

Over lunch we quizzed her about some of her highlights and she said the project she was most proud of was Toys for Smiles.  This was a project done in collaboration with The United Nations Refugee Agency, Aviation Without Borders and the International Scouts and Guides Federation which encouraged local families to donate toys which were sent to a Syrian Refugee camp in Za'atri, Jordan.  The aim was to connect local and international children through the common medium of toys.  Over 2,200 toys were collected from local families and packed into 114 boxes which were sent to Za'atr.  

This moving short film shows some of the very toys packed by Simone and her colleagues being distributed to children:

We asked Simone what key skill her successor would have to have and she said strong arms to put all the tables up!  Diplomatically she also said that the best thing about the job were the people she worked with.  The nature of her post meant that she worked with a lot of volunteers and she was well known for giving them her favourite biscuit - a jammie dodger.  So of course one of her presents had to be a jammie dodger cushion! 
Simone and the Jammie Dodger Cushion © Pitt Rivers Museum

We wish Simone a fabulous time at the Museum of London but we are going to miss her good cheer, superwoman efficiency and creativity enormously.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Introducing the Outreach Team

The Museum regularly hosts workshops for lots of different audiences – adults, families, prospective students, and school groups – as a way of providing access to the collections through hands-on activities. Working with the Oxford University Museums and Collections Outreach Team, we deliver regular workshops for adults, families and children both in the museum and also based in the community around Oxford and Oxfordshire. The team, who comprise Susan Griffiths and Nicola Bird, aims to break down real or perceived barriers to visiting the University’s museums and collections by taking collections material out to groups all over the county. They also represent the University’s Museum of the History of Science, Ashmolean,  Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.  To find out more, visit the Outreach website or follow them on twitter @MuseumsOutreach

Susan Griffiths and Nicola Bird © Pitt Rivers Museum

Here is an example of an event the Outreach Team recently hosted in the Pitt Rivers Museum:
On the 21st June, a professional development day for Art Therapists was run at the Pitt Rivers Museum.   A full day’s programme was organised, looking at the work the Outreach Team does with community groups and how we engage people with objects.  The participants were also given a tour of the museums and a talk from the Pitt Rivers Education Service about how they use the collections to engage young people with art. 

We also discussed how the museums and the Outreach Service can help support them to use the museums and their collections to work with their clients.  The afternoon was then free for the artists to work on their own professional practice, using the museum as inspiration for their own artworks. 

Artwork inspired by Pitt Rivers collections © Martha Evans
Art Therapist Professional Development Day © Martha Evans
Poisson Beware © Martha Evans