Kids in Museums volunteer, Mar Dixon had the unusual experience of visiting a museum in a small Shropshire town where the local community had decided themselves what would feature in the museum…
Much Wenlock Museum has just re-opened, but I had the honour of a preview to see the progress that’s been made since it closed for renovations. Much Wenlock is a small town that was thrown into the spotlight when the organizers of the 2012 Olympics named one of the mascots Wenlock after the town’s association with bringing back the Modern day Olympics.
The museum had the unique situation of being able to go back to bare walls. They worked with the local community to find out what they wanted and how they wanted the items displayed. This is reflected in the unique style and layout of the museum.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with a magnificent, attention-grabbing wall. To the right is the shop which is exquisitely designed to highlight the Olympian heritage (although other items are available). To the left is the town’s local information where you can find more on the Olympic Trail, Abbey and Priory.
The museum is very kid friendly and accessible. Curator Emma-Kate Lanyon said feedback indicated that people wanted panels with descriptions, but for them not to be flat. So the layout is an oval shape with lots of depth and texture. There are buttons to push to hear voices of the historical people of Wenlock such as William Penny Brooke.
Outside of the Olympian connection, Much Wenlock is also an archaeological site. I particularly loved the ‘Wall of Fossils’ where you’re encouraged to touch the replicas. Next to this was a microscope so you could research fossils in more detail.
There was still a bit of work to be done in time for the official opening, but I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. And I was very pleased to hear they have pledged their support for Kids in Museums Manifesto 2012.