For more than a century, Reading Museum has supported children’s learning in Reading and across Berkshire.
In usual times, we welcome over 15,000 school pupils a year through the Museum doors, where they take part in our lively sessions, explore the National Curriculum in exciting new ways, and visit our galleries and historic buildings. One of these, our 12th century Abbey Gateway, was once a schoolroom where Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra studied, a poignant reminder of Reading’s long legacy of education.
For many primary school children in our town, this visit forms their first museum experience, creating a real connection with the Museum and Reading’s community. It brings learning outside the classroom, fosters creativity and curiosity, and can spark a lifelong interest in heritage and the arts.
In 2020, everything changed. The coronavirus forced schools, museums, and almost all parts of UK public life to close. Even after Reading Museum’s reopening, the ongoing need for social distancing means that it is not possible for large groups – like school visits – to be accommodated.
However, we know the importance of a museum experience and the immense benefits it can bring. So, we put on our thinking caps, reimagined our learning programme over the course of several months, and adapted our sessions using digital technology, so that we can bring the Museum to our schools instead!
For the first time, we have developed and now offer brand-new online school sessions, featuring a range of professionally made materials, including:
- live video lead by our experienced museum learning team
- pre-recorded film footage of our live sessions and historic re-enactment
- resources for interactive activities in the classroom
- creating and sharing digitised museum objects via SketchFab
- and more!
Today, we would like to ask you for any support you can give to help us continue developing these new online resources and making them accessible for as many schools as possible. To do this, we are hoping to raise the sum of £6,000.
Children from all over Berkshire hugely value their time spent at the Museum. Your contributions will be invaluable in helping them to keep connecting with their local heritage, and enjoying the magic of a museum visit in the best way it can currently be experienced.
Fostering an interest in history and the past connects us all with our shared humanity, which has never been more important than now. Your support in helping us share this with children today, and investing in their learning, will benefit both them, the community, and the Museum for years to come.
The museum learning team are working on plans to share more of our collection with schools in the virtual world. We would like to develop a virtual session for children based on our fantastic 19th century replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, so that pupils can have a real experience of the Tapestry and this remarkable period of history without having to leave the classroom. We would then look to develop further virtual sessions about Roman life based on our unique collection of artefacts from the Roman town of Silchester, as well as exploring the role of the Windrush generation in our local community in Reading.
We will use our extensive experience and knowledge of Reading’s schools and community to help teachers across the town and the local area to make the very best of the funds available.
Any support that you are able to give is extremely appreciated by all of us at the Museum, the Friends of Reading Museum and the Museum's community.
All funds donated to this Crowdfunder will be held by the Friends of Reading Museum, an independent charity that exists to create a greater awareness of Reading Museum, and to promote the importance of the Museum’s collections and their presentation to the community.