Young Curators and Ancient Artefacts at the Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery

The first Scottish Kids in Museums Takeover Day was held on 28 November, 2013. Approximately thirty museums took part across Scotland and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Smith Museum and Art Gallery in Stirling. Seven children took on the varied roles of museum professionals for the day, chosen from primary six classes in the Stirling area.

Some of the Stirling Smith Takeover Day young participants
Some of the Stirling Smith Takeover day young participants

Visitors learn about African wooden headrests from a keen young curator
Visitors learn about African wooden headrests from a keen young curator

Museum staff started off the day with a welcome and basic housekeeping, before the group was split up to look after all aspects of running the museum. The children greeted visitors, helped the front of house staff and got to have a tour behind the scenes. Many of the kids thought getting to see the stores was the most exciting part of the day, and were amazed by all the different types of objects the Stirling Smith had as part of its collection. MGS Intern James Wedlake was on hand to show the kids about his current project cataloguing objects in the collection. It was then the turn of these junior curators to research and write museum labels, and seven beautiful objects from the ethnography collection not normally on display were made available for the children to investigate throughout the morning. These ranged from ancient pre-Columbian vessels to sixteenth-century samurai helmets and beaded skirts attributed to the Zulu people of South Africa. The children were methodical, showing a great deal of web-savviness in their research and wrote the most amazing labels! I was really impressed.

Curious visitors to the museum were directed to the auditorium where the research was taking place, and many of the junior curators got to speak to families and adults alike about their special object. A modern samurai helmet was on hand for kids and visitors to try, and I must admit I couldn’t resist trying it on. It was really heavy!

After lunch and a run about outside (if only all museum staff could implement this into their day), the kids instructed their adult assistants in the creation of the labels, beautifully bringing together their special text and an image of the object. At the end of the day the staff and junior staff met together to talk about their favourite parts of the Takeover day, and junior staff even made excellent suggestions for improvement in the museum. As an added bonus, all the children donned white gloves and got to hold the oldest football in the world, once owned by Mary Queen of Scots. A rare treat indeed!

The Kids in Museums Takeover Day Scotland was a great success at the Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery, and I would like to congratulate colleagues at the museum for hosting such a wonderful event, including Michelle Cook (Administrator), Michael McGinnes (Collections Curator), James Wedlake (MGS Collection and Digital Cataloguing Intern), Vincent Connell (Senior Museum Assistant), Evelyn Cameron (Museum Assistant), Julia Gibson-Fitzpatrick (Museum Assistant), Victoria Lambert and Christian (Kate) Duffy as well as Clare Rogers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum. I hope next year to see even more museums taking part in this inspiring and fun event.

Photographs from the event can be seen on the Stirling Smith’s Pinterest page

MGS news, Kids in Museums Takeover Day Scotland

Kids in Museums Takeover Day Scotland, get involved in 2014!

The Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery

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