Category Archives: Learning

Campaign! An exhibition curated by Langley Academy students.

Emily Llewellyn,  a Year 12 student at Langley Academy and member of their Museum Council explains how she used a story from the BPMA collection in a student-led exhibition.

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Campaign! Langley Academy

My school, The Langley Academy in Slough, which is the UK’s first school with a focus in Museum Learning, recently curated an exhibition called Campaign! as part of our Museum Learning term. 

The British Postal Museum were kind enough to allow us to include some of their images in the exhibition.  This included a photograph on display in the Suffragette case. The photograph shows two women who became known as “human letters” after they posted themselves to Downing Street in an attempt to personally deliver a message to the Prime Minister.

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The photo on display alongside an umbrella belonging to Nancy Astor, the first female MP who also lived locally to Slough.

The exhibition was curated by the Museum Team and Year 12 Creative writing students. The exhibition covered multiple popular campaigns throughout history including Suffragettes, the Magna Carta, Child Rights, Human Rights, LGBTQ Rights and Slavery.

Read more about the Suffragette human letters.

Dear Amie: Inspiring formerly trafficked women through postal uniforms

During the past two years our Community Learning Officer, Hannah Clipson, has been developing our audiences in the run-up to opening The Postal Museum. Through engaging new groups we have been able to interpret our collection in new and exciting ways. We have created strong and sustainable bonds with formally under-represented groups who now see us and objects as relevant and of interest. In this post, Hannah shares what she has been up to with the Amies, a group of ten women who are survivors of trafficking.

Established in July 2014, delivered in collaboration with the October Gallery and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we engaged with the Amies over a 12 week period. The 10 ladies were originally brought together by PAN Arts, a London-based arts company, and The Poppy Project. This summer we built upon this project, working with the Amies and partnering with the October Gallery, The Mary Ward Centre and The Calthorpe Project. However, this time, we looked at postal uniforms throughout the ages, and used them as inspiration to make our own textile items. Through a series of images, we’ll share what we have been up to.

We started off the project looking at the various bags that have been used by postal workers over the centuries. Inspired by the telegram messenger bags, we made our own versions to practice simple sewing skills.

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

Leather pouches made by the women, inspired by the telegram messenger bags

We developed our sewing skills at the Mary Ward Centre through making a bag with a zip using sewing machines. This got the whole group ready to tackle making a skirt, inspired by the post women’s uniform during the First World War. To make the skirt, we explored images from the collection and experimented with patterns, and had a fabric printed containing our favourite images.

Nanda cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

One of the women cuts her stamp designed material to make her bag

Mani making her bag on the sewing machine

One of the women making her bag on the sewing machine

Asia and Paulina look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

The group look at images from our collection to inspire our skirt fabric

Mani shows us her ideas for a pattern

One of the women shows us her ideas for a pattern

Nanda works on sewing her skirt

One of the women works on sewing her skirt

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

One of the fabrics we had digitally printed

Being able to build upon this project and working with these women has been an absolute joy. Seeing the women grow in confidence and help each other to learn new skills (both textile and life skills) whilst using our collection as a platform has been hugely worthwhile and humbling. Partnering with the October Gallery and The Mary Ward Centre has also enabled us to learn new skills from peers; invaluable as we continue to move forward developing our audiences for The Postal Museum. Next steps include planning our next project with the women at The Postal Museum and developing our first community inspired exhibition at our archive in Freeling House. Watch this space!

-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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New FREE Learning Resource for Key Stages 1-3

It has been 175 years since the invention of the world’s first postage stamp – the Penny Black. Pop It In the Post is a new FREE downloadable learning package that reveals how this little piece of paper changed the way people communicated forever.

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JUST A PENNY! 

In 1840 the idea that a letter could be sent anywhere in Britain for just one penny was revolutionary. For the first time ordinary people could afford to send letters, and the effect was as wide reaching as the introduction of the Internet.

Pop It In The Post supports learning across the curriculum and includes:

  • A downloadable learning resource containing lesson plans, teacher’s notes, image galleries and Powerpoints for whiteboards
  • Over 100 activity ideas, using real archival documents, photos, maps and museum objects to support subjects including Literacy, Maths, Science and Art and Design.
  • A fun animated interactive game for pupils to play and explore the story of the Penny Black
  • A short film introducing pupils to Rowland Hill, the social reformer who led the campaign for letters to cost just a penny who explains how his big idea changed the world.

This learning package was sponsored by Royal Mail Group

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Work experience: Abi at the Postal Museum

Hi, my name’s Abi, over the past week I have been doing work experience with the BPMA, gaining an insight, not only into the work of the organisation, but also the world of work in general.  I have been really lucky in finding the BPMA as a placement, as I have been given the opportunity to spend time with lots of different people, all of whom have been amazing at sharing what they do with me. Possibly my favourite day was spent working in the conservation studio, learning everything from how humidity affects artefacts, to why bubble wrap is banned! (I believe it has to do with the breakdown of polymers…)

Work experience trainee Abi in the Conservation Studio

Abi in the Conservation Studio

Doing work experience here has given me a great appreciation of all the different jobs there are within one organisation, all requiring such different sets of skills. I have also had the opportunity to soak up the wonderful history that the archive has to offer, especially whilst visiting Debden to see all of the large artefacts that the BPMA is responsible for. Never before have I seen so many post boxes in one place!

The British Postal Museum Store at Debden, near Loughton, Essex. The line of pillar boxes show the development of post boxes from the earliest trials on the Channel Islands in 1852-3 to the modern day.

Pillar Box Alley at the BPMA Museum Store, Debden, Essex

The experience here has opened my eyes to why museums and archives are so important; they allow us to preserve history for future generations, so they can learn the same lessons from it that we have.

While I have been here, people have often asked me what I want to do later on in life, and if I know what I want to study at university. What I have told them is simple; I don’t know, but I’m looking around at all there is to choose from. I am unbelievably grateful for everyone being so accommodating for this reason; it has allowed me a really valuable look at an area that I am interested in, and it will definitely help me make decisions regarding my career in the future.

Speaking of the future, I am looking forward to the opening of the new Postal Museum, and especially the Mail Rail ride, it sounds like it will be amazing!

Paints and post boxes: engaging families through exhibitions

As we move into the final design stages for The Postal Museum and Mail Rail, a new family friendly attraction opening in central London in 2016, we’ve been asking ourselves the question, how do families engage with our stories and collections? Our Community Learning Officer, Hannah Clipson tells us about the work she and Exhibitions Officer Dominique Gardner have been doing to answer this question.

Some postal inspired artwork!

Some postal inspired artwork!

Pop it in the post: your world at the end of the street , our latest touring exhibition, is the first we’ve designed that’s aimed at children. With this in mind we decided to launch it at Islington Museum, located just around the corner from the BPMA and popular with local families. It was the perfect place to engage these future visitors to The Postal Museum and get their feedback on what we have to offer them. The exhibition explores how the communications revolution came about as the result of the introduction of the Penny Black stamp and pillar boxes. From the workers who made it possible to the crazy and elaborate new types of post being sent – there are plenty of fascinating and surprising themes; perfect for sparking the curiosity and imaginations of young minds!

This little boy's imagination is peaked - or maybe its the paints.

This little boy’s imagination is sparked- or maybe its the paints!

Alongside the exhibition we ran some drop-in family activities during the Easter holidays. Recent research conducted at our Museum of the Post Office in the Community exhibition at Blists Hill Victorian Town showed that children enjoyed engaging with the uniform in the collection, particularly the hats. Therefore, this was chosen as the inspiration for the take-away craft activity. Children made their own top hat mask and played with the postal themed board games and beautiful jigsaw puzzles specially made for the exhibition. One group visiting from a children’s holiday club stayed with us for 2 hours, with almost every child trying on the handling postal uniforms, which bodes well for the dressing up interactive experience we have planned for the new museum!

Getting messy with paints

Getting messy with paints

The exhibition then played host to a much younger audience at the early years workshop for the under 5s. This time we used mail art as the inspiration – with children as young as 2 creating their own beautifully decorated envelopes to send through the post. It was hard to tell who enjoyed it the most, the parents or the children…but it shows our collection can make for a fun shared learning experience between people of all ages, regardless of their personal experience of using the postal service.

Pop it in the post: your world at the end of the street will be displayed at Islington Museum until Saturday 2 May. After that, the exhibition heads to Bruce Castle Museum from July to September, and in October it heads north to Mansfield Museum – winner of the Kids in Museums Family-Friendly Award in 2011.

-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer

Censorship and Propaganda in the First World War

Here at the BPMA we welcome students of any age to explore our collections. In this post year 9 student Olivia talks about how our collections helped with her project on censorship in the First World War.

My name is Olivia and I am in year 9 at Channing School in London. Back in October, the whole year was asked to write a project on a topic of their choice. At that time, my grandfather found a letter written by my great-great grandfather from the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. This letter contained some censored material and inspired me to choose the project ‘Censorship and Propaganda in the First World War’.

Olivia and Curator Emma Harper

Olivia and Curator Emma Harper

I noticed that The British Postal Museum and Archive was holding a talk on censorship in the First World War. I contacted the museum to see if it was possible to talk to one of their experts on this topic.

Emma Harper contacted me immediately and we met in early December.

Emma showed me the archive and items from the museum collection, which included not only post-related items but also paintings and uniforms. We also looked at First World War censored letters and postcards, and discussed how censorship worked.

Front and reverse of a postcard sent from the front, showing the censor stamp. All post passed through censorship to ensure vital information was not leaked.

Front and reverse of a postcard sent from the front, showing the censor stamp. All post passed through censorship to ensure vital information was not leaked.

Afterwards, she answered my interview questions and read a copy of my great-great grandfather’s letter. We also discussed why some parts of the letter were censored, yet others were not.

Field Service Postcards were a form of self-censorship whereby soliders simply crossed out what didn't apply to them. Any additions could mean the card would be destroyed, Obviously the censor who checked this through thought the holiday greeting was harmless enough!

Field Service Postcards were a form of self-censorship whereby soliders simply crossed out what didn’t apply to them. Any additions could mean the card would be destroyed, Obviously the censor who checked this through thought the holiday greeting was harmless enough!

I have now started writing my project and would like to thank Emma for all her help. I hope to share my finished project with the museum and will keep you updated!

-Olivia, Year 9 at Channing School

Looking for more information on how our collections can support First World War learning? Check out our FREE downloadable First World War learning resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

Teachers! Review our First World War learning resource to win free copies for your school

We’re looking for Primary and Secondary teachers to review our new FREE First World War learning resource for Key Stages 1 – 3. In return for your time we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win copies of the resource for your school.

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Last Post brings the story of the postal service in the First World War to life in your classroom. Wartime characters guide your pupils through the different topics. From the importance of female postal workers on the Home Front, to the telegram messenger boys tasked with delivering news of the fallen, pupils will discover how mail was sent to soldiers and find out about the sacrifices made by the Post Office Rifles regiment on the Front Line.

Take a sneak peek inside.

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The resource contains:

• Lesson plans
• Teacher’s notes
• Over 100 activity ideas
• Image galleries
• PowerPoints for whiteboards

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Download our learning resource

Review our learning resource.

If you have any questions about Last Post email learning@postalheritage.org.uk

COMING SOON: New FREE downloadable First World War learning resource

From next Friday (22 August) you will be able to download a FREE First World War learning resource from postalheritage.org.uk/fwwlearning. Here is a look at what is inside…

In Last Post, war time characters guide your pupils through different topics. From the importance of female postal workers on the Home Front to the telegram messenger boys tasked with delivering news of the fallen, you will discover how mail was sent to soldiers and find out about the sacrifices made by the Post Office Rifles regiment who fought on the Front Line.

B. Conflict

What’s Inside:
This resource supports learning across the curriculum in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

  • Lesson plans
  • Teacher’s notes
  • Over 100 activity ideas
  • Image galleries
  • PowerPoints for whiteboards

Pupils will use real archival documents, photographs, maps and museum objects to discover how the postal service went to war. With cross-circular activities including how to make a Morse code transmitter and how to send a secret message by pigeon post. Last Post reveals stories of memorials and medals, soldiers and stamps, censorship and communication and much more!

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Students from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Massachusetts visit the BPMA

We are a group of four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. At the beginning of the summer, from May 12th to June 28th, we had the privilege of working with the British Postal Museum and Archive to develop better visitor evaluation strategies. The goal of our project was to help improve visitor evaluation within their exhibitions which primarily focused on the Last Post Exhibition.

Mail Rail

WPI Students take a tour of Mail Rail

The overall experience was fantastic, filled with opportunities and memories. We were able to visit and explore some of the most popular museums in London including the Natural History, Victorian and Albert, and Science museums. At these museums, we observed visitors to identify what they enjoyed and see how the set up can affect visitor engagement.

Nysa

Nysa at Last Post Coalbrookdale

We also had the pleasure of working with BPMA visitors. Getting to know those who enjoyed the BPMA’s work, and asking them for helpful insight into what they learned and what they think would improve the sites. Working at events and visiting the Last Post exhibition at Mansfield and Coalbrookdale was a thrilling experience; we not only learned about the exhibitions but also were able to test many different evaluation methods such as interview, surveys, creative writing/drawing activities and observations.

Shuyang

Shuyang with the postal uniform display

We gathered some informative and gratifying feedback, for example one visitor said she “…learned so much more about a city [she had] lived in for 40 years.” Others said that they “did not realize the extent of Post Office involvement in the First World War.” The feedback we gathered was helpful and greatly aided our research objectives.

Enjoying London

WPI Students enjoying London

Aside from gaining new knowledge about museum goers, as a team we were able to improve our professional writing skills, communicate with a broad range of people, and work efficiently in a group setting. This experience also enabled us to grow as young professionals; we believe this project has added to a foundation of what the working world is like.  Living in London was an experience of a lifetime; adapting and working in a different culture will enable us to adapt to all presented opportunities and continue to broaden our understanding of the world.

Thank you,

Angela, Nysa, Shuyang and George

A Bloomsbury Tale

Since August we’ve been working with local communities as part of a project for the Bloomsbury Festival. Our recent work with children from the 1A Arts Centre has been filmed and will be part of A Bloomsbury Tale, made by artist Elaine Duigenan. Funded by a cooperative of Bloomsbury institutions including the Charles Dickens Museum, Holborn Community Association and BPMA, the film showcases the wonderfully diverse nature of the cultural and historical experiences the community has to offer.

A scene from A Bloomsbury Tale.

A scene from A Bloomsbury Tale.

Free tickets to a screening of the film on Sunday 20th October are now available, and you can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine as you view it in the beautiful surroundings of the Art Workers’ Guild. A limited number of tickets may be booked online, or alternatively you can simply turn up on the day.

Children from 1A Arts Centre being filmed for A Bloomsbury Tale.

Children from 1A Arts Centre being filmed for A Bloomsbury Tale.

The Bloomsbury Festival runs until 20th October 2013. BPMA is part of a number events for the Festival – see our website for full details.