Exploring Childhoods Project

Family admiring the museum collection in the home gallery, Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire

With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) we can now expand our collections to better represent late twentieth and early twenty-first century childhoods.

In the next five years we’ll be working with local community groups and schools, as well as developing new volunteer opportunities, to help us make important decisions on which objects represent childhoods from this era in the best way possible.

We’ll have a new community panel advising us on all stages of the project and a new outreach programme to take our collections beyond the museum walls. Volunteers will also have the chance to get involved in research and other new roles that have been created.

We hope to create solid partnerships and stronger collections. The museum will keep evolving through this exciting journey and as we receive new objects for the collection they'll go on display for everyone to enjoy. Watch out for new exhibtions too.

We’re really looking forward to seeing the changes!

Latest posts

25 Apr 18

Just like a fairytale

The new growth of spring has been echoed in our collections, with the inclusion of three beautiful original book illustrations by Michael Foreman. They have been added straight in to the gallery for our visitors to enjoy. Two are from Foreman’s 2005 book ‘Classic Fairy Tales’, featuring Jack and the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk and the Emperor from The Emperor’s New Clothes. The set of three is completed with an evocative illustration of Peter Pan and Captain Hook, from a 1988 edition of J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan. We have also been able to acquire signed, first edition, copies of the books. These eye-catching illustrations will provide us with the opportunity to explore the importance of reading, alongside the endurance of classic stories, in 20th and 21st century childhoods. This month, we’ve added a few more items relating to the medical care of children, including three different examples of children’s health record books which have been donated by the company which produces them for the NHS, and a set of travelling baby weighing scales from the 1960s. The Easter holidays provided us with lots more ‘labels’ for the project gallery. A few have already been added to the cases, with a lovely note about the enjoyment of reading being one of the favourites. The Lego activity also ran smoothly over this particularly busy few weeks and we continue to receive lots of comments from our visitors letting us know that they absolutely love Lego!

Original book illustrations by Michael Foreman

01 Mar 18

Our new project gallery is now fully up and running!

We’ve had a wonderful response from our Christmas-time and half-term visitors taking part in the ‘write a label’ activity. The most popular item to make comment on was, by far, the Lego! There were also some particularly enjoyable comments relating to the Treehouse, SNES and Frustration game. Some of the best have been added to the displays and we hope that this will encourage even more visitors to have a go this season. This January we met again with Catherine and Lynda from MuseumAnd/The National Caribbean Heritage Museum, who are very interested in interpreting our collection of black dolls. We’ve asked them to research and produce an exhibition for the project gallery this summer. The work they’ll carry out will also help us to interpret the permanent displays in the other galleries. It’s an exciting opportunity for us and we’re very much looking forward to working with them. We’ve also been busy working on some more purchases for the museum’s collections. New, and curiously interesting, objects include a George III silver nipple shield and a rocking chair commode. We’ve got a few more in the pipeline and will keep adding them to the open storage area and project gallery as they arrive.

We've had so many messages about how you all love LEGO!

24 Nov 17

A 1980s favourite

We’ve been looking for a BMX to add to the collections for a while now and this month we’ve finally found the one we want! This Raleigh Burner BMX, in yellow and blue, was suggested by one of the parents of our ‘mini curators’ back in June. Made in the mid 1980s it's an item I'm sure many of you will remember! We’ve also managed to purchase a full matching racing suit, and hope to get hold of a suitable number for the front of the bike (essential for racing!) and a full face helmet. It needs a bit of conservation work to get the loose mud off, and then we’ll get it out on display. We’re also working hard on a new project gallery, to be opened in December. It will be a showcase for objects as they come in, and will have ‘open storage’ so you can see some of what goes on behind the scenes.

Raleigh burner bicycle