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Feb 4th 2021

Museums at Home: Supporting Foodbanks and Families with Activity Packs in 2020


Over the course of this challenging year, our partner museums have continued supporting their communities remotely; we are particularly proud of their amazing work distributing creative activity packs and learning resources to foodbanks and local families. In this blog, we’d like to celebrate their efforts and highlight the ongoing activities available from the museums for families looking for fun (and educational!) things to do at home during lockdown.

While usual community outreach projects have been put on hold because of Coronavirus restrictions, staff and volunteers at museums across Cornwall have instead sought ways to take their collections beyond the walls of the building and support their local communities to be creative during this challenging time. However, unfortunately not everyone has the materials at home to get creative, or can afford to buy them. To tackle this, last summer CMP Engagement Lead, Celine Elliott, developed a ‘Zero Miles Culture’ project, working alongside local artist Felicity Tattersall to create 300 activity packs with supplies from Truro Arts to distribute to foodbanks in Penzance, St Austell and North Cornwall.

A hand-drawn activity booklet with illustrations of flowers on the cover and a pack of colouring pencils.

“The challenge of reaching those most in need is never simple;” said Celine, “foodbanks across Cornwall have been doing this for many years, so working in partnership to connect communities with creativity was an obvious route throughout the lockdown. Museums collect things, so the artist Felicity Tattersall asked people to draw anything they’d collected, and to draw what they could see from their windows.”

Following on from the success of this initiative, many museums have taken the idea further in brilliant ways!

Penlee House

In November 2020, Penlee House Gallery & Museum teamed up with Penzance Food Bank, run by Churches Together In Penzance Area (CTIPA), to deliver 100 art boxes alongside vital food parcels in the run up to Christmas. The boxes were full of free art materials including paint, colouring pencils, paper and an activity book full of ideas for getting creative at home.

Zoe Burkett, Education and Outreach Officer at Penlee House, said: “Getting creative is great for wellbeing and hopefully these boxes will help our local community during this difficult time.”

An array of crafting items laid out on a table in front of a cardboard box labelled 'The Art Box'. The items include a sketchbook, colouring pencils, paints, paintbrushes, palette and 'Getting Art Outdoors' booklet.

Christine Gendall, Chair of the Management Committee of CTIPA, added: “These will be most welcome as I am sure they will give hours of pleasure to children who have been faced with limited access to social events for many months.”

Penlee House continues to provide an array of home-learning resources in the form of films, online activities and an online exhibition of the public’s artistic responses to the collection called ‘#PenleeInspired’ (to take part, follow Penlee House & Gallery on social media). You can explore their online learning resources such as ‘Arty Afternoon’ activities on their website here.

The museum are also working alongside artist Melanie Young to offer an online ‘Arts and Health’ course to support wellbeing during the third lockdown. All materials will be sent to participants and for those unable to access Zoom, materials with printed instructions can be sent as an alternative. Sessions are expected to begin in mid-February. For further information please contact the Education Officer, Zoe Burkett, on zburkett@penleehouse.org.uk.

Two images side by side. The first shows a table covered in boxes and art supplies waiting to be packed up. The second shows a volunteer at Penlee House sorting the materials by hand.

 

Wheal Martyn

In December 2020, Wheal Martyn Clay Works partnered with the Family Hub in St Austell to create 100 ‘Winter Warmer’ activity packs, which were distributed through the Hub to the families they support, their youth workers and social services. This resource sought to offer something light-hearted for all the family to enjoy together at Christmas, to lift the spirits, get families outside and foster a sense of community togetherness. Activities included elf and reindeer crowns, tree decorations, snowman paper plate crafts, Christmas cards, colouring in and clay candle holders, plus the basics of scissors, glue, tape and colouring pencils. The Café team were also keen to add something special to the Winter Warmer Packs and baked 100 delicious homemade Christmas cakes to be distributed also, all baked with an extra bit of love for this exceptional cause.

Two young children, a girl and a boy, smile up at the camera. They are stood outside in the mud next to two wooden reindeer sculptures.

Gemma Martin, Education Officer at Wheal Martyn explained the aim of the Winter Warmer: “We have included everything in the packs, so the families won’t need to buy or provide anything. They can just enjoy being creative together and making some gorgeous decorations and gifts to share. We are working together with Cornwall Council Children and Family Services to distribute the Winter Warmer Craft Activity Packs to families in the St Austell area.  We hope that the packs will bring some festive cheer and give families an opportunity to have some fun together being creative as Christmas approaches”.

You can still make your own Winter crafts by following instructions on the Wheal Martyn website here. You can also take a look at their other home learning resources such as the ‘Mini-Museum Challenge’ and Cornish clay heritage activities here.

Two children, a girl and a boy, sit at a table and do arts and crafts together.

 

Bodmin Keep

Last year, Bodmin Keep partnered with the Imperial War Museum and Kresen Kernow on a project called Connecting, sharing, learning: sustaining relationships between collections and older communities during the COVID-19 pandemic’.  This explored ways museums could share their Second World War collections digitally while engaging with older people who may face difficulties visiting cultural venues.  Packs including DVDs and an activity booklet exploring themes such as wartime fashion and the Battle of Britain were sent to over forty local care settings and more than sixty were delivered to Wadebridge Food Bank in December to be included in food boxes.

An array of items from Bodmin Keep's wartime learning pack - including a DVD, badges and information booklets.

In October, volunteers printed activity packs that were full of skills that people in Bodmin shared ahead of Fun Palaces weekend including Egyptian hieroglyphs, how to make a museum at home and some Maori phrases. Packs also included paper and pencils and were delivered to Bodmin Food Bank.

A stack of envelopes in front of an old fashioned typewriter. Each envelope has a printed label on the outside with text on it (too small to read).

Likewise, the museum provided some extra creative inspiration during the October half term, distributing over 100 Where’s Wally and regimental themed activity booklets (which you can still view here: BODMIN-KEEP-ACTIVITY-PACK) to family visitors at the museum as part of the national Where’s Wally Spooky Museum Search.

The museum is currently offering a number of home learning activities, including a bi-monthly ‘Keep Kids’ historical learning resource on various Wartime themes, available on their website here.

Another stack of envelopes on a vintage suitcase. Each envelope shows the same Christmassy picture of a bauble on a tree and some text (too small to read) explaining the activities inside.

 

Museum of Cornish Life

From July to December 2020, the Museum of Cornish Life offered three ‘Take and Make’ activity projects, including a Flower Arch, Sketch Pack and Hats project. These initiatives were a direct result of the restrictions that Covid-19 placed upon the museum’s outreach work, combining digital and physical interaction and encouraging people to work independently but together.

The museum had initially intended to run a series Flower Arch workshops as part of celebrations for the re-opening of St Michael’s Church. However, due to Covid 19 the workshops had to be cancelled and the team instead determined to get the community involved remotely. Online tutorials demonstrated how to make the paper flowers, and large activity packs containing the necessary materials were placed in a box at the front of the museum so that people could pick them up at a time convenient to them, make the flowers at home following the tutorial and then pop the finished product back at the museum. 109 Flower Arch packs were given out and 186 flowers were made. This method removed the necessity to interact with others so people felt confident in taking part; the flower arch then formed part of the museum open day and some of the flowers will be part of a memory box to be used in the local community.

A colourful, handmade paper flower arch is nestled in the doorway of St Michaels Church.

The same model was then adopted for the ‘take and make’ Sketch Packs produced as part of the 2020 Fun Palace event. Out of 100 packs created, over 40 were picked up on the day and those left were given out to local young people. The pack contained materials so participants could make their own sketch books and a guide to sketching outside created by Citizen Curator Carolyn Thompson.

The third initiative, a Hats Project, came from two volunteers who were keen to share patterns from the collection and find a way for the community to support the museum. This project was similar in tone to the others – knitting and crochet patterns from the museum collection were made available digitally and in print for collection from the museum drop-box. Participants made hats and then dropped them back to the museum where they were quarantined and bagged up for purchase via donation in the museum shop.

An array of drawings and paintings from sketch packs by the Museum of Cornish Life. The two top pieces are black and white paintings of a graveyard.

The Museum of Cornish Life are currently offering weekly ‘Museum Makes’ craft sessions on Mondays and Collection Tours on Wednesdays, both live-streamed at 11.30am on their Facebook page, which you can catch up on afterwards on the website here.  The museum also has an extraordinary number of crafting tutorials for getting creative at home on their YouTube channel – you can view the full list of activities available on their website here.

The annual animation festival, Animate Helston, will also still be going ahead digitally in the half-term, 15-19th February. All of the making events and screenings will be held online with films curated by Cornwall Film Festival, Falmouth University and Spider Eye plus daily FaceBook Live workshops at 11.30am.

A volunteer holds up an activity pack and points to it with her other hand, smiling at the camera. Before her is a table full of piles of papers and craft supplies to be made into more packs.

 

Further Resources

PK Porthcurno have also produced a number of online learning resources which you can access here. You can also read about the socially-distanced play activities that PK Porthcurno set up last Summer in our recent blog post by Kay Dalton: Play in a Socially Distanced World.

The Royal Cornwall Museum are currently offering a series of free creative writing workshops inspired by their collection and delivered via Facebook by local artist Felicity Tattersall – to take part simply follow their Facebook page Magical Realism in the Museum.

Falmouth Art Gallery are also providing online creative resources available through the Falculture website here.

 

– A huge thank you to all the museums staff and volunteers who have contributed their time to these vital projects, and in particular thank you to Zoe Burkett at Penlee House, Gemma Martin at Wheal Martyn, Jo Keenan at Bodmin Keep and Isobel King at the Museum of Cornish Life for their help in putting together this blog!