Exploring Childhoods at Sudbury

The National Trust Museum of Childhood has that special way of bringing out the child in all of us. It prompts us to not only think about our cultural history but those nostalgic childhood memories. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery we're developing our collection and exploring childhoods from the not so distant past.

Developing the collection

We are one of 23 museums, libraries and archives to benefit from funding from the Heritage Lottery (HLF) as part of their ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme. This funding has given us the opportunity to think about ways we can develop our collection and make it more representative of childhoods through the ages.

Find treasured toys and instruments
The Magic Roundabout xylophone at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire
Find treasured toys and instruments

Research and curation

The project is focusing on collecting objects from the late 20th and early 21st-century in the hope that we can address current gaps in our collection. It can be hard to represent the diversity of childhood, from those from traditonal family units to the more challenging and complex aspects that many have to deal with. 

Although some objects have been donated to the project, there is still a need to actively search for specific items. All new additions are assessed for any conservation needs and each has its own collections record where all information about the item in stored.

Community involvement

It's not just down to us to decide how to move forward with the project, we rely on the help and advice of a community panel. The panel is made up of representatives from a diverse range of commuinty groups who meet regularly to discuss the long-term direction of the project.

Host school

We've had the help of some local ‘host schools’, to help us decide what new toys we should look out for. At the beginning of 2018 one of our host schools actually created their own exhibiton within the museum, showcasing all of their hard work on the project. Ultimately we hope to create stronger links with the local community to create an engaging and interesting museum for all.

Learning what it takes to design a museum exhibition
Host School children object handling
Learning what it takes to design a museum exhibition

Royal School for the Deaf, Derby

An ‘Exploring Childhoods’ exhibition, produced in partnership with the Royal School for the Deaf Derby.

Last autumn, the Museum and pupils from the school teamed up to explore stories of childhood in the deaf community.  We designed an exhibition together to share our discoveries with visitors.

We connect with tales from home and school in interviews captured as part of the project and through highlighted objects from our collections.  Experience those stories in our exploration handling area and create your own artwork for our ‘wall of important objects’.

With help from volunteers

We simply wouldn't be able to do what we do without the help of volunteers. From research on items to research and collections records. We work closely with them to make sure thay have the training and support they need, so everyone benifits.

What does the future hold?

We've already had some fantastic new additons to the collection with some very exciting ones coming very soon. We're so excited to watch the project develop and the positive impact it has already had on our visitors, property team and wider community.

The first addition to the museum's collection since the Exploring Childhoods project began
Palitoy Family Tree House at Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire
The first addition to the museum's collection since the Exploring Childhoods project began