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Colour in a work of art

THE CREATORS of a new interactive website to promote Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums would be pleased with the verdict of 11-year-old Fiona Maclennan.

"It makes you see a different view of the gallery," says the Gilcomstoun School pupil, whose class was invited to test it during the launch event.

The Aberdeen Quest website offers interactive virtual gallery tours of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, The Tolbooth and Provost Skene's House.

Fiona and her friend Eilidh Mackinnon are online, colouring in works of art, but manage to take their eyes off the screen just long enough to give a verdict on the new educational facility.

"Normally you think you're going to look at a bunch of pictures, but this makes you look more carefully at them and see who did them and stuff," says Fiona.

"You see it on the computer and it makes you want to go to it," says Eilidh. "It is a good website because it's fun and there's good stuff on it."

"There's a bunch of games and you can get a tour round the building and you can also look at the history of places, and there's also other places like the Maritime Museum," says Fiona.

The project is the brainchild of former history teacher Lorna Dey, the city council's cultural co-ordinator. It has been five years in the planning and has been funded by the City Growth Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund. "When I was a history teacher, I was aware that in Aberdeen it was difficult to find resources to help teach local history. A lot of the books ignored the North East," she explains.

"This website is fully interactive and it has an immense capacity for children to learn through playing around with objects, looking at videos.

For example, we see how an archaeological dig is processed. You can also manipulate objects, take them up to draw them, write stories about them, look around each of the rooms in all of the city's museums."

The website also has areas to assist children who have difficulties with numeracy or literacy, by offering games that will help develop their skills.

The venture is part of the Getting to Grips with Heritage project, a partnership between Aberdeen City Council's arts education team and Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums. It provides an opportunity for people all over the world to become familiar with Aberdeen's art and historical and cultural collections, as television journalist Jane Franchi, a member of the steering group, said at the launch: "But the driving force is learning, a teaching tool for in and out of the classroom, which will give our young people knowledge of our city's proud heritage."

Among the gallery's works of art the children can investigate is Joan Eardley's painting "Brother and Sister". They are invited to write a story about the boy and girl, read about the artist and answer a series of thought-provoking questions about the painting.

As well as art, tours and games, the website has links to Discover pages which provide guides to the city's museums. Timeline pages connect visitors through local and international and art history, and Learn pages with resource sheets support links between the collections and the curriculum.


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