During the summer holidays we were able to run an additional programme for under 5’s and their families (alongside our core family programme) with funding from The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust . This allowed us to offer FREE drop–in activities and small group bookable activities both inside the Museum and outside on The Museum Allotment.
We had already raised this funding for the development of a Nature Discovery garden, to sit alongside our Nature Discovery gallery. This will now be developed as part of our major capital redevelopment at the museum over the next few years, during which time we will have a new South Asia gallery and a new temporary exhibition gallery.
We worked in partnership with Hulme Community Garden Centre, RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Groundwork, Barrow-in-Furness Owl Sanctuary, 24/7 Theatre Company and De Capo Duo to pilot new practice which will inform future developments at the Museum. This included a series of 5 ‘Wildlife Wednesdays’ with a different nature theme each week: Birds, Minibeasts, Wildlife, Frogs and Growing. We also held a ‘Festival of Nature’ over the August Bank holiday weekend.
Activities included: object handling; hands-on activities for making something to take away to help nature thrive at home , for example a bug hotel, bird feeder, a bird box , instructions for making a hedgehog house and a pond for frogs. We were also able to offer a series of natural play and craft activities on the Allotment which included urban den building, making bandanas using plant dyes, a messy kitchen using seeds and natural materials and making animal prints and hedgehogs using clay.
Our programme also offered 2 extra weekly sessions of our under 5’s programme Magic Carpet, as well as performances of the Butterfly’s Adventure by 24/7 Theatre Company and Nature Music by De Capo Duo.
All key partners promoted the work they do for nature and wildlife conservation and theprogramme has helped to develop new partnerships We had great fun were able to reach 2840 and 36% of those taking part were very local families (within a 5km radius of the Museum).Visitor feedback reflected on positive outcomes in the following areas:
Learning about nature
“We loved the mini-beasts and butterflies! We learned about the butterfly that lives for a whole year. Thank you!”
“Today was the first time I stroked an owl”
“Our 3 year olds … were captivated. Really interactive and involved all children wonderfully!”
“Fantastic time had. Loads of fun making bird boxes. Kids loved it as well as adults.”
Inspiring an interest in nature and caring for nature
“We pledge to find a special place for our bird feeder in the garden and to encourage more birds to visit”
“My pledge to nature is to make a hedgehog house this weekend”
The project has enabled the Museum to develop, pilot and experiment with outdoors, nature-focused programming as well as stimulating new partnerships and collaboration with a range of nature organisations which we intend to build on in the future.