A guest post by volunteer Sarah Taylor
On 4 October, we turned into a Fun Palace!
Fun Palaces were happening across the country that weekend in a variety of different venues. They could be anything you wanted them to be, as long as they were free, local, innovative, transformative and engaging. Fun Palaces are all about having fun and learning together and being places where arts and sciences meet. I’ve been a volunteer here at the museum since July and was given the job of creating our Fun Palace. It was a daunting task at first, but in the end I was extremely happy with the results and learnt a lot along the way.
I decided that our Fun Palace should focus on Manchester’s history. I carried out some visitor consultation during our Work in Progress exhibition to try and find out what people already knew about Manchester and what they wanted to find out. I used the results to create the displays for the day that explained the origins of the name Manchester and a timeline highlighting some key dates and events. Someone told us (as did the Great British Bake Off!) that the twist ice cream cone was invented in Manchester, so this became the inspiration for our family friendly craft activity! I’d also asked visitors to tell us their favourite Manchester memory and the responses became part of our Manchester memory wall on the day.
The day itself was lots of fun! I made some gallery trails and quizzes for visitors to do which highlighted the Manchester objects in our collections and we had local historian Steve Little on hand to tell people all the wonderful things he knows about the history of the Pump House and answer questions about Manchester. The day was full of people finding out things they didn’t know about the history of the city and we even had some visitors all the way from America who seemed fascinated by all the things we had to tell them. The highlight of the day for me was definitely all the paper ice creams we had made by visitors young and old – they looked good enough to eat!
All in all I felt we had a really successful day. All the visitors seemed to enjoy themselves and I loved seeing all my hard work paying off. I learnt so much from organising our Fun Palace and although it was stressful at times, now all I want to do is plan another one! If we did one next year it could be even bigger and better and I’ve already been taking inspiration from all the wonderful things happening at the other Fun Palaces up and down the country!
I guess I’ll just have to find something else to keep me busy until October 2015…