Virtual Visits with Ely Museum

Ely Museum takes their school visits online 

During lockdown, lots of people learnt new skills, and the team at Ely Museum were no different, except they decided to tackle virtual time travel! 

Suspecting that visiting schools in person during the autumn term would not be possible, the summer was spent devising a plan to bring everything students loved about our in-person visits to them virtually.  Classrooms have time travelled with us virtually to explore what life was like for people here in Ely as far back as the Stone Age! 

Thanks to a Heritage Emergency Fund grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the museum was able to purchase the necessary equipment to make live-streaming visits possible and began preparation and rehearsals in earnest over the summer. 

In the half of term so far, the Ely Museum team have livestreamed Maximus the Roman soldier, Cornelius Vermuyden 17th Century fen drainage engineer, Wilfreda the Wise Woman and several other characters into classrooms across East Cambridgeshire! In this way we have been able to continue bringing history to life for children – and through the wonders of technology, we’ve been able to add a few surprises into the sessions which would not have been possible at an in-person visit. 

With several virtual visits scheduled each week and lots more booked in for the rest of term, these remote sessions have proved that they can bring something a bit special to the normal classroom day. 

Sally Austin, Learning Officer at Ely Museum said; “Whilst Virtual Visits will always be very different from actual in person visits, and will never replace them, they have proved to be an excellent way to continue our education outreach in a way which works in these covid-constrained times.  We’ve been delighted with how popular the visits have proved to be and we know they are appreciated by teachers too”.

Virtual Visits with Ely Museum are adapted to suit the needs of each class. Whether it’s a question and answer live chat session with a Roman or an Anglo Saxon soldier, learning about his equipment as he prepares for battle, joining a farmer as we scare the birds from the Fenland fields, or trying on a gas mask in preparation for war, we will do our best to suit the needs of a particular topic.  If teachers have a particular request, please do get in contact with the museum and we’ll endeavour to help! 

Find out more about Virtual Visits with Ely Museum in our blog post here: www.elymuseum.org.uk/edu/virtual-visits-with-ely-museum  

Anne Jenkins, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis. 

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as Ely Museum during this uncertain time.”

Press release from Ely Museum

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