Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
“Many thanks for the fabulous day we had at the Museum with EACH. Everyone was really friendly, helpful and kind. It was a real treat for us and our son (quite a rare thing for our family).”
The Fernandes family
On Monday 5 August we opened the Fitzwilliam Museum especially for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families connected with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice (EACH) at Milton. This was no mean feat for the Fitz staff because Monday is normally our catch up day for maintenance, and indeed our Café kitchen was being ripped out that day! However, the Museum was completely behind the project, and a delicious lunch for all was served up by the Tate team!
Our programme of activities was designed to match what we do best with the needs and interests of the children and their families. So telling Michael Rosen’s story “We’re going on a bear hunt” involved lots of props and instruments so everyone could join in, but used paintings by famous Impressionist artists in Gallery 5 as the illustrations.
The popular studio hands-on activity saw participants making wonderful creatures from materials you could find at home, but had its inspiration in the animals to be found in our ceramics collection.
The day was always meant to be about having a good time and making memories together. So in our large Gallery 3, full of portraits, our families delighted in dressing up in period costumes and posing for a family portrait behind a large gold frame.
Working with EACH Milton is an exciting partnership for us because both organizations have an important programme for families, and we have much to learn from EACH which will feed into the work we do with vulnerable audiences, such as those we visit on the cancer ward at Addenbrookes Hospital. The training we received from EACH before the Family Day boosted the confidence of the Museum team in working with the terminally ill and their families.
Josie Dwyer, Service Manager at EACH Milton emailed after the event and said:
“It was a great pleasure for my staff to be working alongside your team. We were made to feel very welcome, and I think the collaborative working relationship we have established together is an important part of what made the day so successful.”
All this has been made possible because the Fitzwilliam was invited to become one of the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts Start Hospices new partners for 2013/14. As Jeremy Newton, CEO of the Foundation points out:
“Our Start Hospices programme provides families coping with this most difficult time a rare respite from the illness, allowing them to spend valuable time together in a new relaxed but adapted and supported setting enjoying arts activities and experiences that will stay with them forever.”
So onward – our next event with EACH is a workshop with teenagers in the Autumn half term – we can’t wait!
Rachel Sinfield, Head of Education, FitzwilliamMuseum