These are the words used by curatorial and conservation staff from Historic Royal Palaces, who visited Temple Newsam House on 7 December 2011, in reference to the conservation and re-construction works to the Queen Anne State Bed, and the associated exhibition, Bedtime Stories, now open to visitors. Many people have contributed to the success here, but I should particularly like to congratulate and thank my colleague Polly Putnam for superb leadership on this project. As resident expert at Temple Newsam House on furniture, joinery, and structures I had a major role in this project, research, design, conservation, re-construction, manufacture and installations. Everybody involved learned a huge amount, something we will be sharing at the upcoming conference at Temple Newsam in June 2012, Beds and Bedding in Britain, 1650-1850. A major project like this also reinforced to me just how much I value being of service to my colleagues in their wider mission of service delivery to all users of the heritage assets at Temple Newsam House.
But what is happening in this next picture? Who has been sitting on MY bed!
Is it that pesky Goldilocks, again? No, definitely not. Is it Sleeping Beauty? No, this beauty is wide awake, fully compos mentis, and much more than just a pretty face. In fact it is Temple Newsam's talented, energetic, dedicated and hard-working learning and access officer, Shelley Dring. Speaking of children's stories, writing and telling, a feature of Bedtime Stories, Parts One and Two, will be literacy initiatives, which could perhaps involve developing story writing skills as well as reading skills. So perhaps there will be some new fairy stories resulting from these initiatives. I am thinking about it already.......... maybe new takes on old stories, "The Princess and the Mushy Peas"......?
Learning and access are, for as long as I have worked there anyway, at the heart of Temple Newsam's service delivery, with site staff, curators, conservators, and education staff creating a multi-faceted offer for statutory education, tertiary education, and life-long learning. To help younger visitors with understanding bed construction and materials the mini four-poster bed, seen here, was made. Shelley Dring, Temple Newsam's learning and access officer, is here talking to school children about beds, bedtime, and reading. As well as activities like bed construction in this display area, there are also children's books, and comfortable areas for them to sit, read and play. Or even lie down, and read!
Keys open locks, obviously. They are also very symbolic, a tool to unlocking a barrier. Literacy is a key skill that unlocks the doors to all other learning. Poor literacy is a barrier to all learning. One good outcome from Bedtime Stories, and the related literacy initiatives is, hopefully (!), better bedtime habits, especially reading to improve literacy. So, televisions, computers, and X-Boxes out of bedrooms and turned off at a sensible time, please, and get hooked on books! That is an order from Mother Goose. There are, quite simply, a huge number of richly entertaining children's authors, all of whose books can be enjoyed by children, parents and carers alike. You will not regret it, the lifetime and life-quality dividends for all, children especially, are immeasurable.
Author Claire Tomalin articulates her worries about children's literacy in the link below:
These links are evidence of just how important museum and art gallery education services are:
Posted by Ian Fraser