From November to June 2012, the Year 2 children of St Philip and St James’ Primary School, Oxford, worked with the education officer and museum staff to curate an exhibition for the Entrance Gallery temporary exhibition display cases here at the Museum of the History of Science. All the parts of the this exhibition have been worked on by the children. They have chosen the objects and the title. They have written the labels and the panels.
The children launched their project by visiting the MHS in December to get to know the museum building, the people who work here, and the collection. This was followed by a second visit in February for the “7 Big Ideas” session at the museum, during which the children learned about seven important ideas in the History of Medicine by handling objects, exploring the collection, and hearing about the stories and lives of the people behind these ideas. This provided a starting point for their classroom work on the History of Medicine. A third visit to the museum allowed them the opportunity to view the objects from which those for their exhibition would be selected, and to be broken up in to small “expert groups”. These expert groups (including experts in labels and panels, in display and object selection, in design, in publicity, in collections management and in conservation among others) met with MHS staff with expertise in these areas to develop the skills and knowledge they needed to understand what work lies behind curating an exhibition, and to be prepared to curate one themselves.