Hunt Museum - Early Years ‘Play for Toddlers’ programme
‘The Welcomed Sound of Little Voices at The Hunt Museum’
Last week a new exciting chapter commenced at The Hunt Museum which saw their Early Years ‘Play for Toddlers’ programme being piloted with the help of ‘Park and Play’ Parent & Toddler group. In addition, a related daylong event was also delivered which explored the topic ‘Early Years Development: How Can Museums Help’ . The latter was very well attended by practitioners and academics from the Early Childhood sector.
The Hunt Museum offers a wide range of programming for adults and children but as Maria Cagney, Curator of Education & Outreach at The Hunt Museum stated ‘we have not been doing enough for young families so this Early Years programme aims to offer them age appropriate, fun and creative learning experiences while also clearly communicating the message: You are welcome at The Hunt Museum’.
Over the coming months and with the assistance of the ABC Start Right Limerick project, the museum will be offering Toddler and Parent groups free in-reach and outreach sessions during which they will meet ‘Erik the Viking’, a two meter long friendly Norseman who presents toddlers with many exciting play and sensory learning experiences. Erik has been created by Early Years artist, Jane Hayes, who took as her inspiration particular prehistoric objects in the collection.
During the development of ‘Play for Toddlers’ The Hunt Museum accessed expertise from four museums operating in Northern Ireland, who last year each made a significant contribution to the delivery of the ‘Playful Museums’ initiative. Last week three of these museums travelled to Limerick to contribute to The Hunt Museum’s daylong Early Years event. These included The Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museums, Carrickfergus Museum and Coleraine Museum. Lucy McDonald, Early Years and Family Curator at Tate Britain and Tate Modern also contributed. The event enabled museum staff to communicate how they have been using their collections and local built heritage to deliver a range of programmes for under 5s which encourage learning and discovery through play.
The current phase of the Hunt Museum’s ‘Play for Toddlers’ project is funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht’s ‘Cooperation with Northern Ireland’ scheme. Although this project is just in its infancy, the Hunt Museum is fully committed to growing it’s Early Years provision and in the coming years aims to develop a suite of Discovery Boxes enabling young children to learn about the past through play and the creative arts. Further information on ‘Play for Toddlers’ sessions can be obtained by calling the Hunt Museum Education Department on 061 312833.
For further information contact: Maria Cagney, Curator of Education & Outreach at The Hunt Museum.
Email: email@example.com or call 061 312833
Playful Museums was a pilot project co-ordinated by Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC) and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further information on this programme can be obtained here: https://www.nimc.co.uk/playful-museums
Four museums in Northern Ireland have been advising The Hunt Museum on the design and delivery of The Play for Toddlers project, these include the museums named above as well as the F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, who unfortunately were not in a position to contribute to the Day of Seminars at the Hunt Museum. In August, the Play for Toddlers team including the Curator of Education, two museum Docents and project intern completed best practice visits at each of the four museums to learn about the challenges involved in planning and delivery of Early Years programming.
The funding secured for this project from the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht’s ‘Cooperation with Northern Ireland’ scheme has enabled the sharing of professional practice and the building of authentic cross border relationships between the Hunt Museum and above museums in Northern Ireland.
Artist Jane Hayes was appointed by the Hunt Museum to develop a series of sensory, free and structured play resources and activities for the Play for Toddler programme. Hayes is very experienced in the design and delivery of Early Years programming and has previously developed and delivered programming for Galway City Museum exploring their maritime heritage. She is also employed in Galway by Babóro Children’s Festival. https://janehayescreative.com/