Children at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth
Children at Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth
Young people giving tours at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
Young people giving tours at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
Children ready to take on duties at Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Children ready to take on duties at Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Preparing for the Christmas market at the Bowes Museum, County Durham
Preparing for the Christmas market at the Bowes Museum, County Durham

Takeover Day England 2016

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Earlier this month, over 150 organisations across England opened their doors to a workforce of a different kind. More than 4,000 children and young people experienced, first-hand, what it’s like to run museums, art galleries and heritage sites across the country, filling a variety of roles from curators to tour guides to historical interpreters. It was a record-breaking event as part of Takeover Day England, the annual celebration which recognises young people’s fantastic contribution to our cultural heritage.

Let’s take a look at some of the events which happened across the country…

In East Anglia, the Time and Tide Museum launched a pop-up exhibition and museum trail, curated by local children from Great Yarmouth Refugee & Outreach Support. Using family heirlooms and personal objects, they worked with translators to tell their personal stories, in both English and their first language, and celebrated the community’s growing diversity with their own heritage. Meanwhile, pupils from Culford School took over the Grendel Trail, guiding the public on an animated tour around the West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, said that he was “delighted to see the enthusiasm of young people,” and you can read more about this visit here. Children also did a little bit of everything at the Vivacity Museum in Peterborough, from greeting visitors to learning about the collection…they even got to explore what life was like in a WWII air-raid shelter!

On the south coast, Walmer Castle opened its gates and welcomed a group of children into its historic gardens. After taking part in hands-on activities and learning more about the site, they helped to plan and develop an interactive play trail which will be used with future visitors. It was also busy for the pupils of Stoke Holy Cross, who became servants for the day, in a series of Festive Guided Tours at Osborne House. They set the table, pretended to polish the historic fireplace and even dressed the Christmas tree ready to receive guests. Further west, members of the Young Archaeologists Society visited Torquay Museum, taking over the Warriors of the Ancient World exhibition space.

Across the boroughs of London, museums hosted numerous events in large iconic institutions and smaller community galleries. The British Museum invited local school groups to work in its exhibitions, welcoming visitors in British Sign Language, giving tours and evaluating trails. Callers to Havering Museum, in Romford, may have been surprised to have their enquiries answered by children from local Scout and Brownie groups. Between manning the reception desks and operating tills, the children also learnt how to conserve the historic collection. Public tours were a little different at Dulwich Picture Gallery, too, as they were led by a team of enthusiastic young guides.

Meanwhile, in the north of the country, children discovered exactly what happens behind the scenes at the Bowes Museum in County Durham. Whilst some children helped out in the archives or assisted in the shop, others got to grips with event planning by wrapping presents and making props for their annual Christmas market. Scarborough Museums Trust hosted a day specifically for children who are home-educated, inviting them onto the site to learn about geology. With a close look at the collections, they got to learn more about what goes on each day and sorted and catalogued items from the stores.

The Midlands saw even more events where, at the Library of Birmingham, a group of young people co-ordinated a Spooky Sleepover, which included a mystery trail, spooky snacks and a late-night movie. In contrast, though, it was all about the Victorians at the Dudley Canal Trust, which invited local primary school children to take over the exhibition space. In doing so, they built on things they’d been learning about in their classrooms and curated their own exhibition about what life was like back in the 1800s.

With its mix of varied events and hands-on activities, Takeover Day 2016 was a huge success up and down the country – but even more events took place across Wales! For more information on how you can host a Takeover Day visit the Takeover Day pages.

Author and editor: Becky MacNaughton, News Editor.

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