Museum stories
Exhibitions: fun for all the family!

Almost a third of visitors to the British Museum are families. That’s a huge number of people who might want to explore the collection in a family-friendly way. In case you didn’t already know, there are plenty of free activities and events for family groups with under 16s, including explorer backpacks, digital workshops, craft activities and themed family days.

Exploring the Museum.

But what about exhibitions? Well, good question. We have also been working to make temporary exhibitions more accessible and (dare we say it) fun for family visitors. For example, for the current BP exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia we have worked with the exhibition designers and curators to produce a set of family labels that sit alongside some of the key objects.

One of the labels in the exhibition.

We know that people can engage with objects and stories on different levels. The labels are designed to help 7–11-year-olds discover the incredible story of the Scythians through objects that are fun, exciting and thought-provoking. But actually the whole family (and, yes, even adults!) can take something from these labels. It’s really about helping families to enjoy exploring exhibitions together. So come along to discover deadly Scythian arrowheads, spectacular gold buckles and get close to some 2,300-year-old cheese! Don’t forget that under 16s go free, when accompanied by a paying adult.

A bag containing cheese. Best before 500 BC. 
© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin.

For the past three years, the Schools and Young Audiences team has been working with the Interpretation team to experiment with different family resources for exhibitions that go beyond printed trails. So far, we have tried built-in family labels, hands-on stations, and portable activities for different age groups. We have asked families to tell us what they think and we have spent time looking at who uses the resources and which are the most popular.

Family labels in an exhibition.

We found out that a lot of adults enjoy the labels as much as young people, because they provide a fun and fast way into the stories and themes. 95% of all our visitors think that labels written specifically for families are a good idea (we really want to convince the other 5% too!). The most popular labels are ones that invite visitors to look closely, to imagine, or include something that they can touch, listen to, or smell. Three-quarters of families who use the labels say their visit was enhanced because of them. Based on feedback we have made improvements to the labels such as reducing the number of words, making them more distinct and easier to find, and asking more open questions.

But we want to keep improving! We would love to know what you think of the family labels in the Scythians exhibition. If you have any feedback, you can email us on info@britishmuseum.org

 

The BP exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia is on at the British Museum from 14 September 2017 to 14 January 2018.
Supported by BP.

Plus, come to free half-term workshops inspired by the Scythians, every day from Monday 23 to Friday 27 October 2017 at 11.00–16.00.