There are pros and cons to being a university venue. We are a small cog in the giant wheel of University of Worcester’s growing ambition however we do try to contribute in our own way. One huge benefit, literally, comes when students go home in June! Having completed their exams, assessments and end of term parties we can use more of the old hospital building for events and activities without fear of disturbing classes, studying or experiments.

We took full advantage of this space in June when we invited Dines Green Primary School to a Takeover Day at The Infirmary. Year 5 picked up the challenge and over the course of four days they visited the building, played in the galleries, learned about the characters who worked here and used objects to become acquainted with history of medicine.

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We really enjoyed learning about the history of the infirmary. We loved that we were able to share our knowledge with the community of Dines Green.

Harrison Hill and Mitchell Stevens, aged 10

Through these activities they absorbed the history and pulled out the important facts for the area such as; the founding of the British Medical Association (and what that meant to the patients and doctors of 19th century), what leeches were used for and Matron Mary Herbert’s drive to build a nurses home for the 150th birthday fundraising scheme.

Finnley Murray, aged 10 said: “I was able to teach people about what doctors and physicians did in history. It was interesting to know and share.

They then invited their parents and Year 4 students to a visit at the museum. All 25 children contributed to hosting the visit; leading tours, speaking about the rooms, characters, object handling and even the photography of the whole day was handed over to the Year 5 children, who were by now experts!

“I was amazed to see how eager the children were to takeover the museum,” said Lucy Taylor, Year 5 Teacher at Dines Green. “From day one, where we visited the museum, to day four, where the children took total ownership of the tours, everyone was thoroughly engaged and motivated in the history of the infirmary. They absorbed even the finest of details, to ensure they were able to deliver the tours to their parents and other school members effectively. What a great day, and a great experience for the children!”

The annual Takeover Day is November 18, we ran ours on the June 16 because the building was empty and we still received super support from Kids in Museums because we all know everyone loves a sticker and a certificate which we have distributed to the school.

If any museum is on the fence about doing it, we loved it and highly recommend taking the plunge. It was hard work and a little scary handing control over, however, we think the class loved it, as the quotes show and we heard lots of happy children at the after party. The school has already signed up for 2017 so I guess, the teacher also enjoyed taking over!

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