In November 2018 Preston Park Museum invited over 100 toddlers and their grownups to take over the museum. Each child was provided with a list of activities to do whilst exploring the galleries. The activities were simplified elements of different museum jobs, such as cleaning, packing and transporting objects, sorting the store room and locking up the museum at night. They were designed with schematic play themes in mind, hooking a childs common and natural behaviour.
Toddler Takeover Day is part of Tees Valley Museums wider commitment to family learning. Our museums’ aim to provide a welcoming experience and an accessible enviroment for all families. We aim to give children confidence to explore and learn through play and hope parents feel our museums are a place for them, where they can learn together and make memories as a family.
How has the museum benefitted?
Although Preston Park Museum hosts a regular under 5s group, this was the first opportunity the learning team have had to engage with this age group in the museum galleries, and at this level. It attracted large numbers of first time visitors – many of which were signposted to the Family Explorers network, through which we will continue to build our family audiences and market our family programmes. Overall it was a positive experience that has resulted in future Toddler Takeovers planned more regularly at Preston Park Museum. We are also looking to extend this framework, as well as the Takeover Day more generally, to different age groups. The pilot has also provided an event plan and bank of resources to support other Museums in the Tees Valley to undertake Takeover Days.
On a practical level, family friendly and access audits were undertaken at Preston Park Museum before this event and certain recommendations were made and acted upon in preparation. These will continue to benefit our family visitors. We are continuing to work through these recommendations in order to make our sites more accessible to families and visitors with additional access requirements.
How have our audiences benefitted?
The chosen activities provided opportunities for schematic play and invited children to engage with what captured their interests – providing a platform for additional learning opportunities. Staff observed children being highly engaged and adults commented that the activities were appropriate and exciting.
A note from our Family Inclusion Officer:
“I loved seeing families interacting together in the museum galleries, surrounded by our fantastic collections. This was a special event and the activities on offer made the exeperience really unique to the museum environment – they sparked conversations and encouraged families to play and learn together.”