The RAF Museum, Cosford

Lisa Fawcett, 15.01.2015
Pop-up handling sessions
For five weeks last summer, visitors at the Royal Air Force Museum (RAF) Cosford, Shropshire, were able to take part in a first world war-themed handling sessions.

The sessions, which used artefacts from our handling collection and world war one items on loan from the British Red Cross, took place in the museum’s visitor centre and ran for an hour three afternoons a week. The set-up time was minimal and the location meant all visitors were able to access the sessions.

15012015-raf2 (ID 1126379)

We targeted the programme at regular visitors, particularly groups of adults with learning disabilities, who often visit the museum in the afternoon. We felt that these groups are not always engaged in the stories the museum has to tell, and the aim was to provide a kinaesthetic experience in an informal setting in order to enhance their visit.

The sessions were promoted on the website and social media, but many visitors heard about them through flyers displayed on the pop-up table when the session wasn’t running. Some morning visitors prolonged their stay in order to come to the pop-up.

After the first week of pop-up handling sessions, it became apparent that we were doing far more listening than telling in these sessions. There were an overwhelming number of visitors who wanted to share their stories with us.

Reflecting on this aspect has highlighted the need to engage more with our visitors in an informal way in the future.

Lisa Fawcett is an education assistant at the RAF Museum Cosford