I work as Education Services Officer for (MNH) Manx National Heritage and lead on both formal and informal learning programmes using historic sites, collections and exhibitions to promote learning opportunities.
My love of museums and museum education initially grew from my childhood exploits at museums and art galleries in the North East of England through frequent family visits to historic sites and many welcome out of school visits. The ability of an out of school visit to stir the creative imagination of a child is something I remember well, which later became the focus for my future career. On moving to the Isle of Man, I later studied a degree in Geology and gained my PGCE specialising in Art and Science and taught at Victoria Road Primary School. In 2006 I commenced my post within MNH and gained my Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Studies.
My day-to-day work focuses on planning educational programmes and events for both formal education and informal family audiences. My work is tremendously varied using the sites, collection and exhibition programmes to engage learners of all ages in the work and collections of Manx National Heritage. One of the joys of my work is the interaction I have with the Island’s creative community to communicate the stories of our collections to visitors.
Engaging family audiences and children has become increasingly important in our work within Manx National Heritage and I continually seek new ways in which to build creativity into our exhibition programmes. Recent refurbishments within our sites and museums, has also afforded us additional opportunity to work with Island based creatives to provide family centred spaces.
- Photo Nautical Museum interactive area refitting the Nautical Museum in 2015. Island costumier Penny Nuttall contributed her skills in Georgian dressmaking and doll making for our family friendly space.
The Manx National Heritage exhibition programme is the foundation point of my planning. This year we have successfully planned family workshops and trails utilising the skills of on Island artists for a wide range of learners. Last year in partnership with artists Kate Jerry, Colette Gambell and Anna Clucas- ‘Artreach Studios’ – we delivered drawing and ceramics workshops to young learners as part of the Jorvik touring exhibition Valhalla Life and Death in Viking Britain.
In contrast, 2017 marks the centenary of the death of Manx folklorist Sophia Morrison. To highlight the creative potential of both exhibitions local artist Juan Moore taught a series of Viking and folklore themed workshops at both the Manx Museum and House of Manannan. Juan also rose to the challenge to provide a series of detailed illustrations for our ‘Otherworlds’ trail, which was very appealing to our family groups. In addition to workshops for younger visitors I have also really enjoyed working with Jean Buck of the Guild of Silk painter’s Isle of Man branch, to host a beginner’s silk painting workshop for adults themed around the work of Sophia Morrison. What I appreciate most about collaborative working is the enthusiasm shown by artists and craftspeople to communicate their craft to learners of wide ranging abilities.
The ability to present dynamic formal educational programmes relies on the diversity of on-island creative partners. Our formal education programme, structured for Island school children, is delivered to just over 4000 children each academic year. Our Friends of Manx National Heritage volunteers are instrumental in preparing high volumes of a range of resources to ensure all children have an opportunity to be creative.
- Tiles and Lewis chess pieces made by FMNH for children to paint.
- Photo pewter workshop-Vikings of Valhalla House of Manannan- Marown school Billy Kelly and Susan Quilliam.
My current project is launching our schools and community loan box scheme ‘Museum on the Move’. This project has been a unique opportunity to work with Island craftspeople in making quality, bespoke reproduction objects. The ‘Museum on the Move’ outreach scheme was initially conceived to connect schools and community groups with the museum’s collections. The first boxes explore prehistoric and Viking culture. In commissioning Island artisans to make reproduction objects, many further questions arose around how the original objects were originally made and used. Dialogue between artists and curatorial staff has resulted in an enriched understanding of the original object story.
- Photo loan boxes- ‘Museum on the Move’ Commissions by Graham Hall, Laxey Blacksmith & Morgan Stonehouse
The ‘Museum on the Move’ scheme will be launched in May 2017 for Island schools.
I strongly believe that creativity, learning and enjoyment, is at the heart of museum education. With the future of our sites, collections and stories residing in the hearts and minds of the youngest of our museum visitors, I hope to continue to work with Island’s artists to inspire our custodians of the future.
Education Services Officer – Manx National Heritage