Museum learning sessions across the three Eton College museums have continued in popularity this year, with over 2,000 students visiting between January and July 2022, and another 1,300 accessing live sessions virtually.
These numbers include primary school students taught by Year 12 pupils from Eton, who work with the College Collections community service (ECCE) programme.
ECCE asks Year 12 pupils to work within the local community in some way. In the Collections programme, they do this by researching and creating their own museum learning session, and then presenting it to local primary students. This is always a great learning opportunity for Etonians as well as the visiting students, not only in terms of topic knowledge but also in interpretation, creativity and communication.
The task was only made more difficult by the Covid surge at the beginning of the Lent Half, which meant that we had to move sessions to Zoom at short notice – entailing yet another set of skills for pupils to practise.
Despite occasional technical difficulties, they successfully made multiple presentations to students ranging in age from Years 1-6. One teacher commented afterwards:
Please do thank the boys for the amazing presentation and how well they adapted their delivery as and when needed – gold star from our end!
In addition, the Collections offering was expanded in May by the launch of a session that links in with the temporary exhibition in our Tower Gallery, To Botany Bay and Back: the Worldwide Web of Sir Joseph Banks. This cross-curricular creative writing session looks at the story of Banks, Cook and the Endeavour, and its importance geographically, historically and scientifically.
During the session, the class has a chance to look around the exhibit and learn about what life was like on the ship. This inspires students to imagine themselves on board HMS Endeavour, and what that experience might be like. Alternatively, the session can also be used as a way to explore botanical drawing, using Sydney Parkinson’s watercolours of Banks’s specimens and images of some of the plants Banks brought back with him to inspire their own drawing, instead of writing. This session is only available through to mid-October 2022, while the exhibition is on. However, its popularity already means that it may well be adapted to fit in with our permanent displays.