Families and Children 2019-2020

As a museum sitting in the heart of Colindale we love working and spending time with our local community and those that live on our doorstep. As we all know, things are very different at the moment, meaning we aren’t able to get out and about and see our local community or welcome them into the Museum, as we usually would.

In this series of blog posts we’ll be reminiscing over the last year of the Museum’s community engagement whilst we plan for time when we can all be together again! This blog will focus on activities the Museum has been involved in with local families and children.
One of the highlights of the last year was hosting families from Home Start Barnet at the Museum for Toddler Takeover Day. The day involved the toddlers of Colindale taking on museum jobs and becoming mini curators, conservators and shop staff. Polishing our mini planes, using a pricing gun and whizzing objects around the exhibition using a trolley certainly livened up a morning in Hangar 1.

Mini curators dusting the aircraft

If we thought the group were swift transporting objects around the Museum that was nothing compared to the speed we saw at the Home Start sports day which took place on the green space in the middle of the Museum site. After a rain delay and a relocation indoors the children, and some brave parents, competed in races and games worthy of an RAF assault course! Home Start’s family groups usually meet in the local community centre on Grahame Park but it’s amazing to not only go out to work with the group but welcome them and showcase the Museum as a social hub for local families.

Sports day

Another local group that meet a stone’s throw from the Museum on Grahame Park is FUSE youth club who we’ve also been working with over the last year. FUSE’s mantra ‘Working with young people living on Estates to show them a world outside of it’ inspired sessions at the Museum focusing on job roles and BAME history. The young people watched a performance of ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’ which highlights the role of African and Caribbean people throughout RAF history and today. The group were encouraged to ask questions and also explore the Museum using our BAME history trail. Another session used RAF uniforms to talk about different roles and skills needed within not only the air force but in other jobs.

FUSE in uniforms

Speaking of uniforms, hats were the order of the day when we tried on and created our own RAF hats at Burnt Oak Library. Children explored the different types of hats used in the RAF and designed their own stylish paper hats to take home with them. Getting out and about in local libraries is a brilliant way of meeting new families who haven’t visited the Museum before as well as getting to see some familiar faces who love getting stuck into different activities.

Barnet Libraries

We also worked with Barnet Libraries at East Finchley Library to trial a session where families got to get hands on with some objects from our handling collection and write their own fantasy labels. It was great fun hearing the weird, wonderful and wacky uses the children came up with for each object. We had a ring compass masquerading as a bracelet for a bunny and a Gosport Tube which they decided was a stethoscope. The best part of this activity was that the children were actually
more fascinated with the original uses of the objects than their own ideas; perhaps we have some budding Museum professionals and historians amongst the children of Barnet.

Getting children, families and young people involved with the Museum and sharing the RAF story with them is one of the most important aspects of our outreach and engagement work. We can’t wait to get back to normal and work with all our amazing local families and community partners. For more information about previous community engagement work go to our Community Events page.

About the Author

Rhiannon Watkinson: Heritage Outreach Officer

As Heritage Outreach Officer I have the amazing job of sharing the RAF Museum’s collection with our local community. I love using everything the Museum has to offer in new and innovative ways in order to engage new audiences and ensure that everyone can have a connection to the RAF Museum.