Discovering the museum ‘in character’

The Pioneer Cottage Buderim has commenced work on a school excursion program for year 5. The cottage is a house museum, built and lived in by the Burnett family from the 1880s  until the 1960s. The program we are developing is looking at pioneer life through the eyes of different members of the family from grandparents through to a five year old. 

To kick off the planning, each volunteer was allocated a character – a family member. We set the year at 1891 and started exploring the cottage room by room. Each volunteer was given half a dozen post-it’s with their characters name.  Their mission was to find objects that related to their character for the age they we at the time. I then took a quick snapshot of the item as ‘the character’ explained the connection. In a fairly short time We all gained a good sense of the potential of the objects to show everyday life for the family in the 1800s.  

The best thing though, was the volunteers really enjoyed themselves, and learnt a lot from each other about the collection. It’s not often museum volunteers get to explore their museum together as a group, and there’s a lot that can be shared. Their enthusiasm was infectious!

Author: Janis Hanley

Janis Hanley creates education programs for museums. She has a strong interest in digital engagement. Her programs have received several Queensland National Trust awards. Janis is the Queensland representative of the Museums Australia Education committee, and founder/coordinator of MAEdQ - a Queensland Network for Museum Educators . Janis is currently researching the value of digital story telling in community museums.

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