Over the past year I have been organising a programme of family trails at Lynn museum, King’s Lynn. The trails have been really popular with our October Half Term trail ‘Amazing Autumn’ getting over 180 visitors.
As part of the Teaching Museum development programme which runs alongside our work I was asked to develop and deliver a day of training at Lynn Museum about making fun and engaging museum trails. I spent some time before the day pulling together all the ideas and thoughts which go into making engaging trails – not just another worksheet! From running a training day about ‘What do curators do?’ back in June I had a better idea about timings and knew activities are often more popular than just lecturing!
The trainees all made the journey over to King’s Lynn and warmed up with plenty of tea and coffee. We started off by all having a go at two very different trails used at Lynn Museum over the last year and thinking about what a visitor would get out of a trail. The first was an Amazing Autumn sticker trail and the second an object spotting trail titled Remembering World War one. Everyone had some great comments about the two trails and each person had brought an example trails from another museum to talk about and compare.
We discussed the learning principles which underpin trails and take them from a fun activity into an engaging learning experience. We talked about how a museum can encourage visitors to learn through being welcoming, providing accessible activities and rewarding achievement. The Every Child a Talker initiative and the Early Years Foundation Stage Principles of Learning are good examples of the ideas the trails programme has been based on.
After looking through the trails I had produced for the summer holidays we talked about making activities relevant to your museum and which of the Lynn Museum trails had done this better than others. For the afternoon session I was keen for the trainees to have a go at putting what we had discussed into practice. We all enjoy some arts and crafts and I set everyone the challenge of picking a theme from the museum and designing a spotting, sticker or colouring trail to take families around the museum.
Everyone got into the activity and produced some great ideas which I would love to be able to use at the museum. Lauren put together a lovely sticker trail asking visitors to find the missing parts of Seahenge hidden around the gallery. Rachel did a very different trail encouraging visitors to find all the different objects in the museum relating to domestic life, answering questions as they go.
I really enjoyed developing the session and was pleased that everyone had lots of questions during the day and enjoyed the activities. Delivering the session has been a great opportunity to try out some of the activities and discussion we hope to run as part of a SHARE Museums East training day about making museum trails which will be held at Ancient House Museum, Thetford on 1st December. Click HERE to find out more.