Ashby de la Zouch Museum Digital Engagement Projects

Ashby de la Zouch Museum Digital Engagement Projects Blog

Camera, lights – it’s a wrap!

What a contrast in the weather this week eh?  Well the highlight of a very exciting week had to be today, Sunday, (yeh I know it is technically next week) with the filming of The Stone with the two young actors from Rising Stars drama school and their teacher who was absolutely fabulous and did most of the camera work!

They really look scared don’t they?  We’ll let you know when the film is finished and you can see what the scary thing is that they’re looking at.  Just to remind you, this will be the start of a mystery story which we are asking local primary school children to continue.  Letters will be going out soon to some 40 schools in North West Leicestershire and just over the border to Derbyshire.  We are looking forward to reading what they make of it all but that won’t be until the summer term with the dreaded SATS test out of the way!

Earlier in the week we welcomed a young student from de Ferrers Academy on a day’s work experience.  We were able to give her a varied day, working in the archives, on the front desk and helping to prepare some materials for a future temporary exhibition.

Talking of young volunteers, we are hopeful that another young volunteer from Ashby School is going to come up with some exciting work in our Young Volunteers project.  She emailed some good ideas yesterday so we are hopeful of a good result shortly.

Wednesday was a snowy day wasn’t it?  We were in Wollaton Hall having a very interesting day with the EMMS Leadership Development programme giving us lots of good business development ideas.  Here was the scene when we came out at the end of the afternoon:


Ashby Museum is getting all arty!

Monday 4th February is when we welcome Zouch Art Club to put up an exhibition of their work.  We have had art exhibitions before but this is the first time an art club has used our space to showcase their work.  I am looking forward to seeing it.

On March 16th, members of the same art club will be coming into the museum to actually paint and draw in the galleries.  We’ll be getting out some artefacts from our archive for them to portray so it will be a chance for visitors to see rarely seen objects as well as watching the artists at work.  We are aware that some of them are a bit shy so don’t stare at them for too long!  Who knows, we may even pick up a brush or a pencil ourselves.

After a meeting with local artist Di Lorriman, the local artist who painted our marvelous cartoon history series, we have decided that during Ashby Art Festival we will hold a bottle drawing workshop.  This will be a “drop in” event with people being able to book a one hour slot to come and draw.  Di will be on hand to support but this is very much a chance to have a go and do something to help the museum.  We will provide the materials and we want people to donate their finished work.  The bottles in question will be from a collection of old and antique bottles which were collected by a young man by the name of David Jaques.  David was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in 1988 at the age of 17.  His parents donated his collection to the museum and they have been in the archive for some time.  This workshop will be a chance to get them out and seen,  commemorate David and add something worthwhile to the collection which will enable us to create a temporary display in the near future.  The workshop is open to artists and anybody who wants to have a go, even if you haven’t put charcoal to paper since you were at school so – don’t bottle up your artistic talents!

Well, Monday saw us back in the workhouse with the year 5 and 6 children, this time from Woodcote School.  The children did some investigating into what children in their part of Ashby were doing in 1851 and were surprised to find how few of them were out at work.  One poor lad was working in the leather works which used to be where the soap factory stands in the Callis.  I was able to show the children a short film which brought home what a smelly and revolting job it was!

On Tuesday we were pleased to welcome back our friends from the Standard Soap Factory who have been working so hard in the basement of the Town Council Offices, sorting out the many hundreds of bars of soap which were donated by the company.   Mind you, we know they enjoyed themselves reminiscing about the old days while they were doing it.  The next stage is for them to create a display of their own in the main gallery, utilising the fake shop windows in Bullens shop.  They are also helping with the writing of a book on the history of the soap factory.

A new experience on Tuesday night was to visit the Rising Stars drama school where we met two young people who are going to act in a short film we are making which will be the starting point for a children’s writing competition.  The big shoot takes place in the museum on a Sunday morning very soon and we are starting at 8am!   These young actors are very talented and we are very grateful to them for giving up their time like this.  We hope our film making will do credit to their efforts – which reminds me, must get on and write the story board!

Speaking of young people, we were delighted to meet two members of staff from Lewis Charlton School on Monday evening.  They are planning to get a group of young people together to take part in our project for young volunteers.  They seemed very keen so I am confident that this project will get off the ground.  Still on the subject of children and young people, I was interested to read in the newsletter of the Association for Independent Museums that the Kids in Museums organisation had run a “Take Over” day in November when children were invited to take over all aspects of the museum for a day.  Pity we didn’t know about this as we would have joined but we must look out for it happening this year.  The children were asked what they wanted in museums and what they didn’t like.  Their ideas included a treasure hunt, less text to read, more things to touch and a better balance between interactive displays and visual ones.  Food for thought there.

Digital Engagement Meeting at New Walk Museum Leicester on Wednesday and as always it was good to meet with other museum colleagues and share ideas.  Sadly, this will be the last meeting organised by Caroline from Renaissance as she is moving to Utah for a while.  We wish her a happy experience and we’ll miss her a lot but hopefully the DEN meetings will live on!

Thursday and Friday was spent at The School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester attending  the isay conference on “visitor generated content”.  It’s quite daunting for a tiny voluntary museum like us to be attending an event like this where you find yourself sitting next to people from Tate Modern and the like.   There were certainly some thought provoking presentations, some from very well known names in the museum world (we got to skype Nina Simon of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in California) but there were plenty of inspiring ideas which we can take from this to use in our little museum.  Two of the ideas I have already launched came originally from a presentation I watched on line before Christmas given by Nina Simon.

Finally, today was Kids’ History Club and the first time we have tried offering it at the new time of 1pm to 4pm instead of 10am to 12 and 1 to 3pm.  A great success, the session was packed out!

I was also thrilled to bits to find that visitors have started to write on my treasure chest thoughts and memories cards; in fact there have been so many contributions I am going to have to print out some more cards.

Fantastic, what a week!


About this Sponsor

Ashby Museum was established in 1982 in a small cottage in Lower Church Street. In 1991 it relocated to its present home in North Street, where it shares the old National School building with the town Library and Tourist Information Centre. In 2006-7, thanks to a major Heritage Lottery Fund Grant, a two storey extension was added. It is a Registered Charity and is run by a group of trustees supported by over 50 volunteer custodians. It won the Leicestershire Heritage Award for best temporary exhibitions in 1998, 2001 and 2003. In July 2007, the museum won Museum of the Year in Leicestershire. It works closely with the county Museum Service and other independent museums in the area, sharing expertise and artefacts.