The V&A in Coventry

Over the past 18 months we have been working closely with The Coventry Transport Museum and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum as part of the Department for Education/Arts Council Museums and Schools Programme.  The programme aims to get more school children using their local museums and we have a target of 10,000 school pupil visits to the museums by the end of March 2015.

I thought I would take you through some of the highlights of the partnership so far…

A day at the Great Exhibition for Competition Winners

To launch the primary school programme, we entered all schools who booked during the first couple of months into a prize draw to win a free trip to the V&A.  The winning school was All Saints Primary School and on 1st July a group of 43 excited children descended on the museum for ‘A Day at the Great Exhibition’.  The day included visits to the galleries to explore celebrated Victorian objects, a workshop with a product designer to explore incredible Victorian inventions before making their own and, finally, a V&A goody bag at the end!  We plan to make this an annual event for the duration of the project.

“We had a fantastic time at the V&A. The whole day was such a wonderful experience for the children, from the exciting activities at the museum, to simply travelling to London, as this was the first time visiting London for many of the children. The type of activities children could engage in, such as the design and making activity, were practical and fun. Children have been really keen to talk about and continue with this work back in school.”  Teacher

One Night in November…

We have also been working on in-depth projects for secondary schools, designed to take place over several weeks and offer an insight into the worlds of art, design and performance.  The first of these was a project called ‘Rise from the Shadows’ with pupils at Coundon Court School which was based on Coventry’s experiences during the Blitz.  Pupils visited all three participating museums and a performance of ‘One Night in November’ at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.  Their visit to the V&A for inspiration included an exploration of theatrical processes in the Theatre and Performance galleries, a session in the print room looking at original Second World War designs and posters as well as a practical hair and make up session on wartime styles.  After eight weeks of creative writing, costume, hair and make-up design, choreography, research and rehearsals, the pupils performed their play over three days in the Coventry Transport Museum’s Blitz Galleries. 

This term we will be working together on a transport design project, drawing on expertise at both the Coventry Transport Museum and the Coventry University’s vehicle design department.

V&A objects take a trip to Coventry…

One of the major highlights has been the display of 17 objects from across the V&A’s collections at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.  These objects range from a medieval sapphire ring, 18th century porcelain and Indian bronze sculptures, to paintings by the great Victorian artist G.F Watts, lithographs by Henri Matisse and a poster promoting the post-war reconstruction programme.  Also included in the display is a competition entry, lent by the Royal Institute of British Architects, for the redesign of Coventry Cathedral, following its destruction during WWII.  The very traditional design is in stark contrast to the realised scheme by Basil Spence which can be seen from the steps of the Herbert. 

The loans have been displayed within the permanent displays of the museum. This means that pupils will encounter V&A objects as part of their tours of the Herbert and can view them in dialogue with more familiar objects from the Herbert’s collection.  In the future there will also be an iPad trail which will take the pupils on a tour of the V&A objects within the museum, including quizzes which can be later accessed from school.  We hope other visitors will also find the objects a refreshing surprise when they come to visit their local museum.

One thought on “The V&A in Coventry

Nikita Montlake:

To whom it may concern,

I am currently a history of art student at Glasgow University graduating in 2015. My dream is to work within a museum context putting on workshops for kids. I currently volunteer at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art for the Saturday Arts Club doing workshops for kids and their families. It is the best part of my week and something I want to pursue once I graduate. I was wondering if you offer internships or work placements at the V&A within the learning division or if there is a similar area I can get involved in and if so who is the best person for me to get in contact with? Thank you for your time.

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