Outreach through Open Heritage Days

Anita Fox shares how Open Heritage Day will support the development of The Collection's outreach work.

It has been a busy time since April for the Investigate Learning team and our outreach project has been gathering pace. The learning workshops have been fully booked across the sites and we have taken the opportunity to talk with our visitors about what they would like us to develop for the future. Other teams across Lincolnshire County Council have also been briefed about the project and have been keen to support and get involved. Having access to such a diverse range of artefacts and art works has been the stimulus for a lot of discussion and planning. Exciting!

In the late spring The Collection Museum hosted a six week artist residency for OPEM 2019. Three artists took up residence in the gallery – Ros Lorimer, Michael Shaw and Belen Cerezo. This provided an opportunity to explore the links between their work and potential outreach kits and also to deliver workshops for primary and secondary school pupils. The archaeological illustrator, Ros (see also Chapbook History website) is collaborating with us to suggest ideas for the outreach kits and we look forward to working closely with her on other projects in the future.

A review of the handling objects and artworks to include in the new kits has taken place for the first two topics – Creative Arts and Prehistory. It has been great working with the Collections team to identify the most interesting items to include. For the Prehistory kit, a range of flints and beaker pottery tell a story of life in prehistoric Lincolnshire. The finds of a local Lincolnshire man, Bill Bee, form the starting point for an investigation about the uses of flint and the processes used from the flint core to a variety of hand axes and arrow heads. Posing questions and investigations will be the priority of the supporting interpretation being developed in the Autumn. For the Creative Arts kit, three main themes have been decided upon to collate the items and prompt focus and discussion. These are - Creative Arts and Environments, Creative Arts and Identities and Creative Arts and Societies. A range of selected art works are to be included in each theme as well as artefacts to stimulate cross curricular activities. The Medieval local studies kit is next and the support and ideas from a range of collaborators will be collated following the planned event on the 21st September.

The team will host a Heritage Open Day event on Saturday 21st September. This illustrates the collaboration we have had with other teams across the county council and their desire to be involved in developing kits and promoting other learning offers. It is an opportunity to ask questions of visitors and gather examples for outreach work either for schools or community groups. These ideas will be pulled together after the event and will inform the next steps taken in the project. We will be offering activities for visitors to try out and posing questions. Hopefully we will also showcase our new film which will support the outreach kits and which we had a great final day filming on 27th August.

Our Creative Arts film (being developed as part of this TMC project) is intended to show what the learning team offers and how we are using the heritage artefacts and art works together. A key aspect of the film explores how to create an exhibition and what to consider when curating displays. This is intended to shift the focus from having handling kits that only stimulate descripton of objects to new kits that enthuse people with more investigation, skills development and the creation of new and exciting responses e.g. writing poetry, hosting linked exhibitions, researching local history stories etc. The film can then be used as a stimulus to creativity as well as giving some examples of our learning priorities. We are all intrigued to see what the final film will look like!

Following the collaborative event later this month the formatting of the kits will be decided. Ideas for this have changed so much since the start of the project and this process has been very stimulating. The aspect of the project I had not considered at the start was how much this project could support so many different groups and stimulate so much enthusiasm. It has been an advantage to consider the best format and content more slowly and take these ideas on board. Here's to the next few months as the outreach kits are pulled together and the support materials are finalised!

The Collection are part of The Artsmark Partnership Programme; an Arts Council England endorsed network of arts and cultural organisations that can support education settings on their Artsmark journey to embed arts and culture across the curriculum. If you are part of a cultural organisation that works with schools, you can become an Artsmark Partner for free by attending one of our briefing events. To find out more visit our events page which has details of our next briefing taking place on 17th September in Leicester.