The much-loved Summer at the Museums events programme, traditionally about promoting hands-on activities in museums across the region, has been adapted in response to the current COVID-19 crisis.
Summer with the Museums will see families in Cambridge and beyond able to enjoy a wealth of museum related activities in the form of a 28 page Explore and Create pack, as well as additional resources made available on the University of Cambridge Museums website.
The pack includes activities from local museums and partners which are intrinsically linked to their collections. From making Ediacaran-themed sun catchers and plant based paint, to discovering more about Bronzed Age pottery and creating miniature museums, the activities are suitable for a broad age range and can be tackled using basic resources from around the house.
Working in partnership with Cambridge City Council and other community partners, 8,000 packs will be distributed to families across Cambridge and surrounding areas. To ensure families most in need are best supported, the UCM is also creating an additional 500 resource packs to be used in conjunction with the booklet. These packs will contain simple supplies such as glue sticks, scissors, card, string, pencils and stickers and have been created based on feedback about what craft supplies families lack at home.
This builds on the huge amount of work museum educators have been doing throughout the pandemic. Since the start of lock down, the museums and Garden have made enormous efforts to help visitors, schools and families access a different cultural offer during the COVID-19 outbreak. From virtual tours, online films, Twitter challenges and downloadable resources, a whole new virtual programme has been made available. As part of this, the Museum of Zoology moved their annual Zoology Live festival online, enabling new audiences to connect with their wider digital content created in response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard have also been working with local community partners to ensure that those families who might not necessarily have ready access to the internet or craft materials at home are supported. Through the supply of printed activities and art-making resources these families are also able to engage.
Susan Miller, Summer with the Museums Coordinator, said:
‘Six months ago, the University of Cambridge Museums was delivering one of its key large-scale family events of the year, Twilight at the Museums. One month later – we were in lock down. We had to ask ourselves what an events programme would look like when so many of our museums would be closed. How would we offer families the opportunity to have fun and engage with collections remotely? How would this be different from home learning, which families had been doing for several months? Most importantly, how would we reach those families who didn’t necessarily have digital access?
While we weren’t able to offer the usual range of events, we could still create a programme that fulfilled these objectives: creating a resource that was useful, fun, linked families to our collections and was not home schooling! Most importantly, it should be available to all families, not just those online.’
While families might not be able to experience summer hands-on experiences at the museums, the museums and Botanic Garden will still be with them. Summer with the Museums will be supplemented by a number of films, activities and digital resources on the Summer with the Museums web page.