After months of hard work and careful research, on Friday 24th June, our Year Nine students presented their chosen museum projects to parents, staff, students and museum curators.
For two hours, each student talked to visitors about what they had learned during their research, in front of display boards they had carefully prepared to introduce their topics.
A dazzling range of projects were on display. Visitors were able to explore how social media might be displayed in museums, and even to create their own hashtag! They were also able to find out about local museums displaying human remains and explore the debate around this contentious issue.
The importance of fungi in our lives, its beauty and its under-representation in museums was another topic on display. As well as this, the under-representation of trench art in museums was investigated in a different project.
Two projects explored the controversial topic of the Benin Bronzes from different angles: one investigating through an essay, and another creating a screenplay with a discussion between people with opposing views on the artefacts. In both cases, people were able to vote and give their own views.
One project looked at the Ashmolean Museum through the lens of ancient Greek and Roman temples, seeing the ways in which these temples were examples of something like early museums, and the ways in which the Ashmolean emulates classical temples. Another compared the Ashmolean Museum to the Louvre, and explored the different impacts both museums had on visitors and the wider community.
One project looked at a recent Exhibition about Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, the ways in which the Exhibition told the story of the book, and the parallels with modern ideas and approaches. Another looked at how museums have told stories through exhibitions about Alice in Wonderland, and museums’ ways of bringing these stories to life. A third project imagined the stories from artefacts from the Ca Mau shipwreck.
One project explored the issue of colonialism and the return of objects and displays on the topic through exploring Kenyan artefacts. Another looked at the issue of colonialism “at home” by exploring the Highland Clearances.
One project explored the presentation of Inuit artefacts in museums, both locally and nationally. Another looked closely at how astronomy is presented in museums, and the approaches of looking at the astronomers themselves or looking more at the discoveries and processes of astronomy now.
One project looked at how gemstones are presented in museums, with some beautiful examples for people to handle, as well as a display of the equipment used in the process of rock polishing. Another looked at how accurate dinosaur displays are in museums, and how these displays can have an impact on how other natural history items are displayed.
Lastly, one project involved the recreation of an item of Tudor clothing called a “kirtle”. The exhibitor modelled the item of clothing she had made, and explained to visitors the process of making it, and how re-enactment clothing is important in museums.
Visitors were hugely impressed by the range of exciting projects, the confidence, eloquence and knowledge of the students, and their enthusiasm in pursuing and presenting these projects.
It marks the end of a fantastic year of exploration into museums, and we are very grateful to all the museums and museum staff who supported the project. to all the visitors who came last night to see the projects being presented, and to our amazing students for their very hard work. Well done!