With #TakeoverDay happening November 18th, here's a repost of a blog we wrote for Museums and Heritage Advisor about our experience of giving The Infirmary to pupils from Dines Green Primary School in June.
There are pros and cons to being a university venue. We are a small cog in the giant wheel of University of Worcester's growing ambition however we do try to contribute in our way. One huge benefit, literally comes when students go home in June! Having competed their exams, assessments and end of term parties we can use more of the old hospital building for events and activities without fear of disturbing classes, studying or experiments.
We took full advantage of this space in June when we invited Dines Green Primary School to lead the first ever Takeover Day at The Infirmary. Year 5 picked up the challenge and over the course of four days they visited the building, played in the galleries, learned about the characters from the 231 year history and used objects to become acquainted with the history of medicine. Through these activities they absorbed the history and pulled out the important facts for the area like; the founding of the British Medical Association (and what that meant to the patients and doctors of 19th century), what leeches were used for, Matron Mary Herbert’s persuasive skills to build a nurses home for the 150th birthday fundraising scheme.
They then invited their parents and Year four students to visit the museum and all 25 children from Year 5 contributed to the visit; leading tours, speaking about the rooms, characters, object handling and even taking photos on the day. The whole day was handed over to the Year 5 children who were now experts! Finnley Murray, aged 10 said, "I was able to teach people about what doctors and physicians did in history. It was interesting to know and share.”
"I was amazed to see how eager the children were to takeover the museum. From day 1, where we visited the museum, to day 4, where the children took total ownership of the tours, everyone was thoroughly engaged and motivated in the history of the infirmary. They absorbed even the finest of details, to ensure they were able to deliver the tours to their parents and other school members effectively. What a great day, and a great experience for the children!" Lucy Taylor, Year 5 Teacher at Dines Green.
The annual Takeover Day is 18th November, we ran ours on the 16th of June because the building was empty and received super support from Kids in Museums because we all know everyone loves a sticker and a certificate!
Harrison Hill and Mitchell Stevens, aged 10 said of the experience, "I really enjoyed learning about the history of the infirmary. I loved that we were able to share our knowledge with the community of Dines Green."
If any museum is on the fence about doing it, we highly recommend taking the plunge. It was hard work and a little scary handing control over, however we think the class loved it, as the quotes show and we heard lots of happy children at the after party on the day. The school has already signed up for 2017 so I guess, the teacher also enjoyed being taken over!