The collections here at the Collections Centre are here for everyone to enjoy. We reckon there are about 300,000 objects here, so it’s unlikely they will all get their turn to be on display in our permanent galleries in the museum venues- not in the near future, at least! But they can be seen and used while in the stores during our tours and for research. This post is about another way the collections have been accessed. Researched, photographed and borrowed by school children to create their very own Wee Museum in their school building.

For a few years now we have been lending objects from the museum collections to Victoria Primary School in Newhaven. The loan was for a small display at the school looking at the local history of  Newhaven, one of Edinburgh’s historic fishing villages.

The display opened back in 2010 as the result of a project run by our colleagues in the Outreach team. The project initially started in 2010. To research the displays, school children visited the Haven Centre (a local older people’s group) and talked to some of the participants about their experiences in Newhaven in the past. A local resident also visited the school to share his memories.

A small group of children visited the Museum Collections Centre, met museum staff and learnt about the work museums do behind the scenes. They helped to select objects for the exhibition. They also photographed and kept a record of their visit so they could report back to the school.

This research was then used to create the ‘Wee Museum of Newhaven’ a permanent exhibition space in the school. The children named the museum, created a sign, decided on objects to be displayed and developed posters and other material for the museum.

Eight years on, and the display has had a refresh. You can read more about in the Outreach team’s blog.

From the Collections Management side of the project, we were involved in making sure selected objects were in suitable condition, checking we had enough information about them on our database (see a previous blog about the importance of good record keeping), and arranging for the loan to happen. This involves agreeing on the exact objects to be loaned (it sounds easy enough but when you have 4 identical green glass floats, it’s sometimes hard to be sure you know which one is going out on loan!), establishing a set of agreed terms and conditions, and a LOT of paperwork. It’s just another behind-the-scenes part of work which rarely gets seen or talked about, but the end result is a wonderful display and a class of very proud and happy kids.