Primary School Pop-up Museum

Cam Hocking, A primary school pop up museum, Museum Victoria, 30 November 2015

Museum staff member chats with student about her exhibit. Photo: Cam Hocking Source: Museum Victoria.
Museum staff member chats with student about her exhibit. Photo: Cam Hocking Source: Museum Victoria.

Here’s a tough question; what do friendship, knitting, soccer and bugs all have in common? Apart from being incredibly popular, they are all exhibits featured in the brand new Princes Hill Primary School Museum.

The museum has been curated and created by students from Grade 3 & 4 at Princes Hill Primary School in North Carlton. Throughout the year these budding historians, scientists and designers have been doing an in depth exploration of the role of museums in society. They have worked with staff from Museum Victoria, visited our museums to study exhibition design, and then applied what they’ve learnt to the creation of their own museum.

As part of the project the students also brought their exhibits into a pop up museum at Melbourne Museum. Staff from all areas of Museum Victoria came and visited the pop up museum, along with some of the students’ parents, to hear about the project and offer feedback to the students about their designs. There was a wonderful feeling of collaboration and collegiality amongst the students and Museum Victoria staff, and a great deal of constructive feedback was offered. You can see a collection of tweets and photographs from the two days here, Tweets and Photographs. See a time-lapse of the setup, opening and pack up of the museum here, Time lapse.

The students were rightfully proud of their work and appreciated the staff and parent visits. Mia said that “It was so good to let other people look at your museum. I felt really important to have so many museum people come and look.”

Another student, Loula, reflected on the value of the day.  “It was a great for other people to see the work of students and that they can do more if they put their minds to it.

Classroom teacher Melinda Cashen said “It was such an authentic experience for the children. They have built up a great relationship with the museum over the year and they felt that the effort they have put into building their own exhibits was worthwhile and valued. It allowed the children to see the process of curating and how a museum works in a real context, and they really appreciated the feedback they received, making changes to their exhibits when they returned to school.”

There was also great benefit for the staff at Museum Victoria too. Rebecca Carland, Curator of History Collections visited the pop up museum on Tuesday. “I was delighted by how engaging the pop-up Museum was. The science displays made me re-think how we write for younger audiences, some of them really nailed it. And the use of digital tech in one of the history displays was seamless and so professional. I think we met a couple of our future colleagues.”

Students will now take the feedback they received and continue to work on their exhibits in preparation for the opening of their museum at Princes Hill Primary School in December. Congratulations to all of the Grade 3 & 4 students; we can’t wait to come and see the final museum when it opens. You can keep up to date with the class’ progress on their blog