Monday, 11 October 2010

StoryShed @ North Somerset Museum

We hadn't been to North Somerset Museum in Burlington Street since their highly successful arts and crafts sessions with Helen and the Punch & Judy shows by Professor Walton during the summer holidays, so after Bargains 4 Babies and Toddlers at Victoria Methodist Church on Saturday, we decided to pop in for an hour.

The women on reception kindly let me put my shopping bags behind the desk and we entered the courtyard to a new but temporary structure - StoryShed! This turned out to be a locally recycled wooden hut decorated with all manner of sparkly and interesting items, each one relating to one of the stories that you can listen to on the laptop inside.

My 4 year-old, attracted initially by the fairy lights overhead, made a bee-line for the computer and clicked randomly. The first story we listened to (and that she wanted to hear 3 times!) was called "Dancing at the Hippodrome," all about Jasmine's experience of going to the Bristol theatre, a venue we could both relate to. Hearing another child's voice kept mine transfixed and she listened intently. An accompanying logbook assigns each story a set of keywords that can be used as an educational extension and you can search for the related objects dotted around. We looked for an item or two on display that might be connected to the story and we found a pair of ballet shoes.

Produced by Theatre Orchard, StoryShed brings together pupils from our local Priory Community School and adults from Somerset Racial Equality Council's Friendship Group, who, between them, have documented their personal experiences and diverse cultural backgrounds. It's a good example of how interactivity can really work in a museum setting, relying on visual, audio and kinesthetic stimulus.

It kept us occupied for a good 10 minutes and then she was off to dress up as a ladybird, torment Mr Punch, decorate a paper vase with coloured pencils and set up an imaginary picnic for both of us.

Storyshed closes on October 22nd.