Museums and Living History
The past brought to life
The value of a good quality museum cannot be overstated when it comes to furthering our knowledge of history. The best places will spend time and money analysing how their visitors interact with the exhibits - what they stop to look at, which information boards they read, where they stand and perhaps whether they make any notes. If the museum does not understand what people are taking away from their visit, they were either really lucky in getting everything exactly right to begin with, or else they don't care about their visitor's enjoyment, and will quickly suffer declining attendances.
The museums listed below are examples of venues who have worked hard to give their visitors the best possible experience, and more than that, they cater excellently for school groups in particular. Whether you visit somewhere big enough to get lost in, like the British Museum, or a small regional venue like Gladstone Pottery, you will find a wide range of subjects including national railways, aeronautical, waterways, and heritage.
As a child I wasn't particularly fond of museums. After I had gazed into the hundredth glass display case and read the faded yellow postcard notes about the objects on view, I quickly started to lose interest. I didn't really understand the value of what I was seeing. Thankfully, the people who run such places these days are more aware of how to engage the younger generation in particular and some venues even bring the past to life in the form of living museums, complete with people in period costume and real shops displaying or selling goods that would have been available at the time. What could possible inspire your students more about the subject than standing them in a street as it would have been one or two hundred years ago and letting them explore with all of their senses.