A Derbyshire museum asked pupils at Royal School for the Deaf Derby for help in creating a new exhibition to reflect the childhoods of a more diverse community.
Staff at The National Trust asked students from the Ashbourne Road school to assist with a new display in the Museum of Childhood, which is based at Sudbury Hall.
The exhibition is part of the Exploring Childhoods project, which is funded by A Heritage Lottery Fund grant and is designed to expand the museum’s collections to better represent late twentieth and early twenty-first century childhoods.
Pupils at the school, who formally opened the exhibition, were filmed talking about their experiences of growing-up and they also worked with some of the older members of the deaf community who shared their memories with the children.
Teacher Marie Clampitt said: “The National Trust is working with various community groups to create exhibitions that challenge and engage their visitors and they realised that they needed to develop their understanding of the diverse experiences of childhood in Britain.
“Our pupils thoroughly enjoyed working with the staff from Sudbury Hall and it was a great opportunity to develop their social skills.
“It was also a wonderful chance to explore and handle museum objects and visiting Sudbury and seeing their work in situ really validated their stories, they were incredibly excited.
“I also think that staff at the museum learned how important it is to offer a space in which communities can share their experiences directly with the public.”
The Exploring Childhood project is due to last five years and as part of its work the National Trust has developed a new outreach programme to take its collections beyond the museum walls.
Royal School for the Deaf Derby, which was one of the country’s first schools for deaf children, originally opened in Friar Gate in 1893 when it was called the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.
The school itself is currently curating its own exhibition of hundreds of old photographs and original artefacts from the school’s history, while recordings are being made of past and present students reminiscing about school life.
Head teacher Helen Shepherd said: “Derby has one of the biggest deaf communities in the country and deaf history and culture is a very important part of our curriculum today. From the outset, the school was extremely progressive and today we encourage pupils to learn about the school’s fine history and to be proud of it.
“So, we are absolutely thrilled to have been given the opportunity to share the school’s history in this way – and it’s a delight for our pupils to see their community represented.
“In the last 126 years, the school has helped thousands of deaf children overcome challenges, develop a strong sense of identity and live richly fulfilling adult lives.
“It is very exciting to be given the opportunity to extend this learning out into the community and we look forward to showing visitors to Sudbury Hall just what an incredible place Royal School for the Deaf Derby is.”
Visitors can enjoy the exhibition at the museum until September 1.
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