Wednesday, 9 December 2015

'Mythology by Moonlight' – a Museum Takeover project at Pitt Rivers Museum

We are excited to be working with nine students from Matthew Arnold School in Oxford on a Museum Takeover project. Their Takeover event, 'Mythology by Moonlight', will take place at the Museum on Saturday 5 March 2016 from 6-9pm and will be open to members of the public. Tickets will go on sale in January 2016. 


The project involves the students curating, planning and running all aspects of the evening event. The event will focus on myths and mythological characters from different cultures represented in the museum. There will be live music, craft activities, ‘mythology’ explainers and the screening of films created by the students. 

The project began with a training day held at the Pitt Rivers Museum in October 2015 where students from schools and colleges across Oxfordshire met to explore ideas for activities and events that they could run in museums. It was a day full of creativity and great ideas about how to get museums buzzing.

Since then the students have been meeting once a week in school to work on their plans for their Takeover event. As the Secondary School and FE Education Officer, I have been joining the meetings every other week. In November they visited the museum for a ‘behind the scenes tour’. We visited the Photographic Archive, where we looked in the Photographic Store, and saw the different types of historic photographs and negatives that are held by the museum. 

Tour of photographic archive with assistant curator Kathy Clough © Pitt Rivers Museum

We then had a tour of the Conservation Studio where conservators work using special equipment and techniques to care for artefacts in the collection and ensure they are preserved for future generations. 

Visiting the conservation lab with conservator Andrew Hughes © Pitt Rivers Museum

After that we went into the museum after it had closed to the public and had a chance to explore the collection, and see the different light effects that are possible for special events. 

Museum after hours! © Pitt Rivers Museum
Finally we heard from Maddie Ding, the VERVE Volunteer Coordinator, all about the planning and running of the ‘Day of the Dead’ special event held at the museum on 30 October, 2015.

Discussing how to plan an event in the museum © Pitt Rivers Museum
 Cyra, a participating student who is also coordinating event-planning on behalf of the Takeover group, said: “I thought that the visit was very worthwhile and it opened my eyes to the things that go on behind the scenes in a museum. I never knew that there was so much preparation that went into making the museum tick and it was fascinating to hear about the processes that go into keeping the museum and its artefacts safe.” The students will visit the museum again in this month.

The project is a partnership between museums across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire who are all working with young people on Museum Takeover events. The museums are working together in this way to help each other make their museums as welcoming as possible to young people and to plan more events like this in the future. It is funded by South East Museum Development programme. It is supported by Kids in Museums as part of their national Takeover Day initiative. 

Katherine Rose, Education Officer (Secondary and FE)

Museum Takeover students in the Pitt Rivers Education Office © Pitt Rivers Museum

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