05 March 2020
Posted by Adrian Harris
A blustery and rainy day in Poole is still a beautiful day by the sea, with the remnants of Storm Ciara still wetting the streets of Poole Old Town and the harbourside, I took the opportunity to bring my young assistant to examine how the museum’s exhibits are absorbed by an enthusiastic six-year-old boy.
As we entered the museum my son was immediately distracted by the shiny gems on sale in the gift shop, it looked like he was already embracing the piratical theme of some of the more famous exhibits. After I managed to pry him away from his intended booty, I was impressed to see how he was captivated by the Poole Logboat, he was also interested to learn how old it was and how it was carved from a large piece of oak.
The next item that grabbed my son’s attention was the beautifully carved rudder from the 17thCentury Dutch merchant vessel. He actually sprinted up the stairs to get on an eye level with the intricately carved merman, but interestingly enough it was the copy of the carving that he could touch and feel the shape of the wood that really sold it to him. It demonstrated that a certain tactile appeal of objects that the public are allowed to handle really make a lasting connection.
We enjoyed exploring the other floors of the museum, and the “dress the Roman Soldier” magnetic display also proved a hit. One thing I noticed was that a lot of information cards were quite high up, and therefore literally went over his head, and the odd interactive audio display failed to grab our attention when they didn’t work first time. But kids can be fickle, however I was pleased to learn that a great deal of the museum still proved a hit on a first visit, and I am keen to see what my planned workshop in March with a primary school uncovers.
When we returned home from our visit to Poole I was surprised that the next day my son still had questions about the carved head of the Swash Channel Wreck. So, I came up with the idea of scripting a piece as if the ancient merman could speak and tell us how he came to rest in Poole. But without giving too much away, I am very excited to be having conversations with animators about the possibility of truly bringing the figure head of the ship now identified as The Fame to life, but more on that soon.