Behind the scenes at the building site, the Windermere Jetty team have been beavering away on interpretation for the Museum. The story that we will be telling at the Museum is an exciting one, capturing tales of the peaceful tranquillity of Windermere and daring adventures on the lake. These stories will captivate the imaginations of many of our visitors. What if you’re a family group visiting? How do you engage young children with a trip to the Museum? We asked ourselves these questions, and then set about developing activities that will help families to explore Windermere Jetty.
Interactive exhibits will explore different themes in the Museum, for example, how steam is created and what it’s like to travel at speed, something that our visitors will not be able to experience on Windermere today. Apart from the interactive exhibits, which will be dotted throughout the exhibition space, we are also providing activities that our visitors will be able to pick up and use during their visit. These activities will appeal to specific visitors, such as families.
To find out what families would like to see at Windermere Jetty, we researched family resources at other museums and galleries and we asked local families what they would use on a visit to the Museum. The list contained items such as:
- Colouring sheets and crayons
- Trails geared towards families
- Activity bags/Backpacks containing different activities
- Low tech interactive exhibits
- Objects that can be handled
We decided to have a closer look at how to develop activity bags to help families and children explore the Museum. We have similar bags at Abbot Hall and we know that they are well used by families in the Gallery.
We’ve found out some interesting things about activity bags
- The optimum number of activities is five, enough to keep children engaged without it becoming too arduous to complete everything that’s in the bag. This also allows room for activities to be swapped or added when needed
- Make sure that activities are suitable for the youngest or least able in the group
- Aim to have as little writing involved as possible, in terms of what’s expected in each activity and also the instructions. Activities should be as self-explanatory as possible. A simple guidance sheet for adults is a great idea to set out what’s in the bags, what’s expected of visitors and to reassure visitors that they will not need any materials not already provided in the bag to complete the activities
- Make questions and activities open ended to encourage conversations to continue within family groups, leading to further exploration of the collection
- There are several benefits to having such bags available for families to use. They provide a focus to the visit and allow us to highlight objects within the collection; they suit different learning styles and can be used at the visitor’s own pace; they are non-messy activities that allow families to work together to discover the collection; above all they’re fun to use!
Since we completed this research, we have come up with a name, Captain’s Duffel Bags, and decided that the bags will contain up to five different activities. We’re not telling you what’s going into them yet, we don’t want to spoil the surprise!
For more information about Windermere Jetty visit windermerejetty.org