I’ve always loved visiting museums. I spent endless school holidays pottering around North Down Museum (Bangor Heritage Centre back in those days..), trekking around the Folk and Transport Museum, admiring all things Egyptian at the Ulster Museum, or even getting on the boat to the New World at the Ulster American Folk Park. One of the things I love about Newcastle is the variety of museums and galleries within easy reach – and we have missed them all so much! When the Great North Museum: Hancock reopened a couple of weeks back, H and I couldn’t wait to visit and see for ourselves some of the objects we’ve been reading about these past few months. We had such a fun time, and he asked to go back again pretty much immediately – which I happily agreed to! I’ve been pretty buried under marking lately, so being able to finally get out and about a bit more has been a really welcome change.
There’s a booking system in place online which is very straightforward, and allows you to reserve tickets for specific timeslots. We went for the late ones (3-5pm) which were quiet and gave us plenty of time for exploring. H was adamant about what he wanted to see on both visits: Dinosaurs and Ancient Egyptians. Both boxes were very much ticked! He had an absolute blast in the wee interactive Journey to the Afterlife experience in the Ancient Egypt gallery, hopping over snakes and trying to avoid the fiery floor. Luckily there was nobody else around in that gallery for a good 20 minute stretch, as it was pretty much all he wanted to do.
We also ended up spending a good while looking at the different objects in the Roman gallery – especially the long model of Hadrian’s Wall which runs through it. He liked picking out letters on the inscriptions too, and looking at the different animals and figures.
For our second visit, I made a little scavenger hunt to give us something a bit different to do. I made a very simple worksheet, picking out a mix of big and small objects that he’d been interested in on our last visit, printed it out, and off we went. I was surprised how much he enjoyed it – he immediately took charge (“Follow me mummy! I will find it!”) and directed us around the galleries looking for each object. Once he’d tracked it down, we would find its number, match it up to a label, read out the description, and write down the name on the back of our sheet. It was a lot of fun, and prompted so many questions – surprisingly, the porphyry foot by far had the most: “But.. what was it FOR? Where is the body? Who made it? Where does purple rock come from? Why is it purple?” *continues forever*
Next time I’ll have to think of some trickier items, because he found everything with no bother. I’m now quite keen to learn a bit more about making easy task-based worksheets which follow on from our reading, but aren’t too onerous/sapping of joy. You can download a PDF copy of the one I used below – it is pretty basic, so probably quite transferrable across different museums. Happy hunting!