All over the country kids have been taking over museums, galleries and archives!  Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to put our feet up and let the kids do all the work 😉 we were delighted when pupils from Haveley Hey School in Wythenshawe arrived one morning in November to takeover Archives+.  So what’s this all about then?  You might well ask!  Well, Takeover Day is a national event created by Kids in Museums to give children and young people the chance to be more hands on with their local heritage or arts organisation.

This was the first ever Archives+ Takeover Day and the children from Haveley Hey had a jam packed day working their way around a wide range of activities.  They were able to experience several different aspects of Archives+ including conservation techniques, archive management, the NW Film Archive, the digital exhibition and they even got to do the planning for the next Saturday Spectacular family fun day.  As if this wasn’t enough to keep them very busy, they also took it in turns to photograph and film their experiences; some of their images have been included in this blog post.

One of the most exciting areas they explored were the strong rooms where the archives are kept.  Teachers reported that they had never been so quiet – apparently awe struck by the huge storage facility and the extent of the treasures within.  They loved the impressive electronic stacks and were amazed to find out that the shelving runs the same distance as between here and Liverpool.  Our archivists had picked out some old documents from the collections to show them and they had a look through some original documents that were created nearly 300 years ago.

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One of the strong rooms where the archives are stored in the basement of Central Library

On the ground floor of Central Library the children explored the Archives+ digital exhibition and learned about how people lived in Manchester many years before they were born.

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The back to back model house exhibit

They looked at old maps of Manchester and were able to compare these to modern Manchester maps in order to understand the growth and changes that have taken place over the centuries.

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Zooming in on one of the huge digital maps we have in the ground floor exhibition

There were tears of laughter at the old black and white films we have in the NW Film Archive (for some children this was the first time they had seen black and white movies) and then they settled down to watch some vintage television, including Bagpuss, in one of the British Film Institute viewing pods.

Haveley Hey Take Over
Watching old film footage in one of our film pods

One of the exhibits in the digital exhibition allows you to send digital postcards of old scenes of Manchester.  The children enjoyed choosing a digital postcard and emailing them through to their class or to their Mums and Dads.

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Creating text for their digital postcards

There was some hard grafting taking place in the Chief Librarian’s Office where they were set to work illuminating illustrated lettering.

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Lettering and gold finishing

In the conservation room the children learned how to use hand letters to create embossed lettering (known as gold finishing) and how it is applied to bound volumes. They then had a go at printing their own names with gold embossing foil.

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Selecting a hand letter to use in gold tooling

And their final task of the day was to plan the next Saturday Spectacular and this is now what we will be doing on Saturday 16th January 2016:

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Brainstorming for the next Saturday Spectacular

When it was time to go home I asked some of the children what their favourite activity was and the enthusiastic reply was, “All of it, all of it!”.  Wow!… well we don’t get much better feedback than that!

Our thanks go to all the visiting children and staff from Haveley Hey School – your interest, enthusiasm and creativity was tremendous and it was a pleasure letting you takeover for the day.

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