Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Take One... Totem Pole

Take One... Totem Pole is a highly successful primary school project which has been running at the Pitt Rivers Museum for the last year.  It is part of the National Gallery's Take One... brand which encourages schools to take one picture or object, and use it as a springboard for pupils' critical and creative thinking.  Pupils are challenged to find out the story of the 11.36m high totem pole in the Museum.
Totem Pole 1901.39.1  © Pitt Rivers Museum


The philosophy behind the project is that an entire school takes the object as a focus for their curriculum planning, ideally leading to a celebratory whole school event.  This year we have worked with West Oxford Community Primary School, St Swithuns CE Primary School, Cholsey Primary School and Bishop Carpenter CE Primary School.  The project is supported by a set of Teacher Notes and whole staff INSET is offered.

Art display at West Oxford Primary School © Pitt Rivers Museum

During the summer West Oxford Community Primary School made Take One... Totem Pole the focus of their art week. Every single class visited the Museum for a 75 minute taught session to experience the totem pole and find out more about it.  Pupils discovered that the totem pole comes from Haida Gwaii, a group of islands off the North-West coast of Canada.  They found out more about the traditions of the Haida people, and handled a variety of their objects from deer-hoof rattles to carved paddles.  They also heard about the stories linked to the totem pole and about the mischievous raven!  Back at school each class took a different creative response such as making raven masks or sewing button blankets. These artworks were displayed at a week long exhibition to which parents and the local community were invited.

Haida-inspired button blanket © Pitt Rivers Museum
Raven Masks © Pitt Rivers Museum

At the start of September St Swithuns C of E Primary School, Kennington, took part in Take One... Totem Pole involving just under 400 pupils in a 3 week project.  This culminated in an open afternoon for parents in which they could see all the childrens' creative responses.  There were totem poles lining the corridors made from all sorts of materials!

Totem pole at St Swithuns
© Pitt Rivers Museum
Nursery Class totem pole at St Swithuns
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Totem poles made from Pringle containers!
© Pitt Rivers Museum

If you are interested in participating in Take One... Totem Pole please contact Becca McVean at education@prm.ox.ac.uk

Watch out for the new Take One Object which will be revealed in January 2016....


  1. Trẻ em tại Trung Quốc rất hay đi xe đạp Totem
    Các bạn thấy đó Xe đạp trẻ em Totem là một loại rất tốt nhé. Tôi thích totem

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