Year 5 and 6 pupils from Whitemoor Primary School in Nottingham had a taste of what it would be like to run their own museum on Tuesday 25th November when they took part in a challenge at the Galleries of Justice to help them redesign their prison exhibition.

But this was no exercise, the ideas the children came up with will be actually taken to the museum managers for careful consideration. The education manager for the museum, Stuart, who spent the day alongside other volunteers who work at the museum, commented “These children are so full of ideas and have articulated them superbly. In fact, lots of their ideas are better than the ones we’ve had ourselves already.”

Teachers from the school were also impressed by the way that the learning was so real for their pupils. “It’s great to get them out of the school environment and working with different adults and learning about the different jobs they do.

They’ve got a lot more out of today that just a normal visit to a museum because they’ve got so involved.”

Original and Exciting ideas

Knowing that their ideas might actually be used really made the day special and made the children try extra hard to come up with original and exciting ideas to make the exhibition more interactive and exciting. After having a tour of the museum, the children got into teams to think generate ideas.

Stuart explained to the children the role of a museum curator about how they need to have excellent historical knowledge of artefacts and local stories to help them put an exhibition together.

The Amazing Educators came up with the idea of experiencing what it would really be like to go to a prison in the past by taking mug shots of visitors in the style they saw in the museum; “We want to show you what life was like.” The Crime Crackers had a similar idea, except they would allow visitors to try out the food and beds in the cells too. One impressive idea from the Dooming Stars was to allow visitors to touch the exhibits using special gloves that wouldn’t damage the artefacts. The Extreme Exhibitions used clever technology in their plan with interactive quizzes which would help visitors to learn more and have fun. Finally, the Museum Megastars were particularly keen on allowing visitors to handle the impressive selection of antique guns used by the prison wardens, whilst being mindful to consider safety too.

Preparing pitches

The teams all worked hard to prepare a pitch to the actual museum curator, who came to listen to all their fantastic new ideas. Some groups chose inventive ways to get these across, by creating pictures, posters and acting out a tour of their improved gallery space.

In the end, the Extreme Exhibitions won due to their exceptional team work, creative ideas and real understanding of what makes a museum a great place to visit.

“I’ve really enjoyed working in a team today”

“I’ve really learnt about the conditions of prison life and about history on this trip, as well as taking turns and how to work in a team”

The Galleries of Justice are supporting students from Nottingham to develop enterprise skills and build aspirations. If you’d like to find out more, contact us.

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