For the BM125 celebrations, my role is to create a series of events that will invite people to engage with the museum collection in creative ways. Events will happen in the museum itself and also out in the local landscapes that gave us so many of the wonderful specimens that we see in the museum today.
Events are already under way and as they unfold, we’ll advertise them here, on other museum social media and on the Creeping Toad* blog and facebook pages (just search for Creeping Toad). We’ll also feed back on the activities and results of the events: sharing poems and stories and “d-i-y” guides to the activities we have been doing, inviting you to try things for yourselves
On National Meadows Day at the start of July, we were out enjoying the delights of hay meadows in the Upper Dove valley. Out of that grew a collective poem and a set of instructions for building your own landscape books
Memories are rooted in these meadows,
In the fleeting lives of butterflies,
In nodding seedheads
In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze,
Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,
All knitted as tightly to the earth as the meadow.
Childhood holidays rooted here too,
New names, first meetings,
Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again.
Extract from the Haymeadow poem, July 2018
In August, there was a lively afternoon in the museum. Drawing inspiration from the current Collectors and Curiosities exhibition, we were making our own small cabinets of curiosity. Boxes, cupboards, treasure chests for precious finds and stray memories, these were bright, colourful and very distinctive.
The Cabinet poem follows: try reading it out loud!
Shells and gems and dried cicadas,
Stick insects if they ever stayed still long enough,
Or maybe just sticks.
Leaves and sticks and stones,
And sticks again sometimes.
Rocks and feathers,
And sea glass from a wide, windy beach.
And horses, maybe.
Pottery, Lego, coins,
With sand from sunny places.
Cars and squishies and rubbers,
Because a special collection needs a special box.
And sharks teeth and other bones.
I collect shark’s teeth you see.
I have a lot of them.
There will be feathers and bones,
In my cupboard,
And my brother’s bones.
And my sister’s skull.
I have fossils from Robin Hood’s Bay,
And Lyme Regis where I found an ammonite,
Lots of tiny ammonites,
And one big one that will be too big for this.
This Cabinet will be full of memories.
This Cabinet will be full of leftovers.
This Cabinet will be a Museum for Bears,
This Cabinet will hold Treasures and Taonga.
This Cabinet will hold inspiration for my own creativity
Our next BM125 public event is at Apple Day at the Dove Valley Centre near Longnor, on Sunday 14th October from 12 noon – 4pm. Here we will be celebrating the heritage of orchards and old fruit varieties – a reminder that museums hold memories as much as objects and those objects belonged to lives lived in our wider landscapes. Join us and make your own apple-puppet to tell your own orchard stories. Check the social media pages mentioned above for final details
*And I am Creeping Toad: storyteller, artist and creator of celebrations and disturbance. I also have a bit of a thing for amphibians…hence the Toad in the name!