by Gemma Eglinton, Learning Coordinator
We’re thrilled to have won a £250 grant from the London Museums Development’s Family Friendly programme, helping us to embed the Kids in Museums Manifesto.
I attended the first annual Family Friendly Briefing Session in back March. It was a brilliant opportunity to think about how we can make families feel really welcome and I was inspired to hear about some of the things our friends in other small museums are doing.
I shared the contents of the Kids in Museums Manifesto at the March volunteer meeting and received lots of support from our volunteers who received the ideas very positively.
We found out we had been successful in May and went straight to work putting the money to good use! The grant has allowed us to make small purchases with huge benefits. Our blue step stools have been a brilliant success from the moment they arrived. We have model houses showing water use through time upstairs and downstairs, you can even spot people on the toilet! Well worth hopping onto a step stool to see! A visitor told us ‘They’re so amazing, I’ve always had to lift my son up for ages so he could see inside the houses and now I don’t have to’. We love that our visitors can move the stools around to whatever they want to see
We bought three see-saws to add to our splash zone outside because our beam engines work like giant see-saws. A nursery group were the first to use them and the teachers told us they were really pleased because it meant that the children who didn’t enjoy water play had another fun activity to do with other children, or individually.
Our new children’s table and chairs in the steam hall has offered a space for Duplo and cogs to families who want to sit and play amongst the steam engines. Visitors have told us ‘it’s so nice to be somewhere where you just let children be children’. Families have also been able to use the table and chairs for snacks and breastfeeding, and we’re pleased it’s become a relaxing space where mums feel comfortable.
Our first purchase was our discovery box in the electric house with magnifying glasses, a toy phone, a tape measure and paint brushes in the bright primary colours of the engines. Our younger visitors love choosing things from the box which they can take with them on their journey around the Museum. It’s helped us in our goal to have things which can be touched and played with in every gallery and engine house.
Finally, our most recent purchase is a set of yellow steps to go in front of our reception desk. It allows children to speak to the person on front of house, choose their trail pencils, and pay for their new toy. We’re pleased that families know from the moment they arrive that this is a place that’s for them.