University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Fitzwilliam Family Trails

The first half of the year has got off to a great start on the Fitzwilliam Museum Family Programme with over 1,600 children and their parents taking part in our regular free drop-in family activities. This just shows that we are on track to sustain the 28% growth in families joining us at family events we saw in 2013.

Our drop-in events attract a regular core audience of families but also on average 36% of visitors who are attending for the first time. It has also been lovely to see over the last year a new group of families joining us on our mainstream family programme from our ‘It’s Magic’, preschool sessions.

Our success has, in part, been thanks to our growing team of education volunteers who, with the Fitzwilliam education team, have done a great job in supporting families to explore and engage with both the permanent and temporary displays in sustained active looking, thinking and making.

Once I began to draw shapes I saw so many things in the galleries that I had passed by before – seeing in a different way

This sustained looking can be seen by how engrossed families are in activities and in investigating the collections, with them often spending hours in the Museum.

We didn’t have enough time we could of stayed all day! Even my 8 month old enjoyed herself we would love to come back. Thank you.

I couldn’t stop my mum from drawing

These quotes just partly show how the programme is designed to include all ages, from babies to grandparents and how we specifically design activities to encourage collaborative work between adults, children and siblings.

For anyone who can’t make any of our regular drop-in family sessions, there is always a range of free resources for families available from the information desks. Adding to these is the exciting release of our first set of new look family trails. We have ‘From One Life to the Next’, that explores the Egyptian collection, mummies and the afterlife, and ‘Picture Adventure’ that takes you on a journey through our wonderful painting galleries. They are proving to be very popular with families and we have already received lots of positive feedback.

“He usually doesn’t like trails but this is the first trail he has ever worked all the way through.”

Importantly the trails also recommend links between the Fitz collections and other University of Cambridge Museums. In the case of the Egyptian trail, we suggest that families can continue exploring the theme of beliefs and celebrations, contrasting what they have discovered about Ancient Egypt to other cultures by visiting the Museum of Classical Archaeology and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. By doing this we hope to begin to help families in continuing their learning beyond their visit and take what they have discovered to other places.

But this is only the beginning and more new trails will be following helping families to explore even more parts of the collection.

To find out more about family events and to download our new trails please check out our pages on the Museum website.

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