Friday, 27 May 2011

Education News - 27th May 2011

STEAM Education Gets Top Marks for Educational Visits!

We’re fast approaching the end of another incredibly busy year with school visitors to STEAM. About 20,000 children a year come to experience our hands on interactive workshops, stepping back in time to the eras of Queen Victoria and the Home Front during WW2 (not at the same time!)

The Education Team is spending the summer planning and developing new activities to enthuse children, ready to launch at the beginning of the new academic year in September.

We’ve had great fun putting ourselves into the shoes of children and devising lots of new ways to use original objects, photographs and drama with schools. We can’t wait to try them -  if we grown ups didn’t stop laughing, then neither will the children!

We are enhancing our hugely popular We’ll Meet Again event for schools, which runs for two weeks every autumn and spring, based on feedback from our school customers.  Children will be up and moving when they come to immerse themselves in life in 1940! Jitterbug, anyone? Doubtless, there will be quite a few ‘Black Bottoms’! Regular visitors will spot new activities relating to wartime childhood and cracking codes. Ladies in a local care home are reminiscing about their own memories of being little girls in wartime, ready to share their stories with us (whilst spanning the eras by crocheting Victorian costume for children to use at the same time!)

However, the most exciting news for us and for our school visitors is that STEAM Education has just shown itself to be at the ‘top of the class’ for school educational visits by being the first heritage site in Wiltshire to be awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge. For us, this means that we have been nationally recognised by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom for both the quality and safety of the experiences we offer school children and teachers. For schools and teachers, this means that they can cut red tape when planning to take children to our Museum and do not need to carry out their own risk or quality assessments.

We are absolutely delighted to be the first in Wiltshire, it is a huge coup for the Education team and all the staff here at STEAM and we look forward to welcoming even more children and young people from across the region to our wonderful Museum.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

STEAM Guidebook - 19th May 2011

The updated guidebook

A new edition of the STEAM guidebook has just been launched!  At £4.50 this new edition has a much fresher feel and includes lots of new images.

The guidebook is a great accompaniment to the Museum and tells the unique story of the Great Western Railway whilst guiding you through the displays at STEAM.

We have also included a new set of images within the guidebook.  STEAM worked in conjunction with the HND photography students at Swindon College to produce some of these images.  These range from atmosheric shots of our character figures to some detailed close up shots of objects within the Museum's fabulous collection.  The students produced some great photographs, with 6 individuals lucky enough to have their work included in the guidebook.

The guidebook is an interesting read and the perfect souvenir to take home.  Buy your copy today!

A close up of some GWR uniform buttons.  Taken by former
Swindon College Student, Christine LeHeup -

An atmospheric photograph of the "Typist" character figure taken by
Swindon College Student, Kevin Morrow

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Curatorial Corner - 11th May 2011

A Visit to Highgrove

Back in 2009 the Museum was approached by the Public Catalogue Foundation, their aim being to photograph every oil painting in public ownership in the country.  It was a huge feat and STEAM was happy to help out.  We have a small painting collection here at the Museum, and only five oil paintings.  However, we have five very beautiful and different paintings that are now featured in the new Gloucestershire and Wiltshire edition of the Catalogue. 

This edition of the catalogue was launched at Highgrove on 3rd May 2011 with a champagne reception hosted by HRH The Dutchess of Cornwall, the patron of the PCF.  Both Felicity Jones and Elaine Arthurs of the Curatorial Department were lucky enough to be invited to the launch.  The afternoon started with a two hour tour around the gardens at Highgrove, followed by champagne and canapes.  It was a real honour be there, alongside other institutions, such as hospitals, local councils and galleries, who all display various publically owned oil paintings.

Felicity and Elaine spoke to her Royal Highness and were able to tell her all about STEAM, even suggesting she brought her own family along!  Prince Charles opened STEAM in 2000 so it would be great if his wife could come too!

All those invited to the launch were given a copy of the catalogue.  It is a massive book full of some amazing paintings - and this is just for two counties!  Our five images look stunning and colourful.  A range of abstract, modern and traditional style oil paintings.

It was a great afternoon and one Felicity and Elaine will not be forgetting soon!

Elaine Arthurs and Felicity Jones meet HRH The Dutchess of Cornwall