Shhh ... class of curators unveil own secretive show

29th January 2010 at 00:00
Wallace Collection's pupil-led exhibition is the first at a national museum

A group of 12 primary pupils have become the first to curate, finance and promote their own exhibition at a national museum.

Children in Years 5 and 6 from St Vincent's Catholic Primary School in Westminster are to stage their own exhibition called "Shhh ... it's a Secret" at the Wallace Collection in central London.

The idea for the show, which will display a host of objects each with a hidden secret, came nearly a year ago. The children have been working with staff at the museum one day a week since the start of the summer term last year.

Marina Coleman, headteacher at St Vincent's, said: "It has been fabulous. We were approached last academic year by the museum and the children have been involved from the very beginning. It has been an amazing opportunity for them.

"The children were chosen by those who had an interest in the arts, and others who wanted to excel in another area."

According to Ms Coleman, the children have been involved with every aspect of the exhibition from choosing the objects, themes and the display of the galleries to helping with press and marketing material and even giving a presentation to journalists. The pupils have also held educational workshops and kept an eye on the budget.

Robbie Anand, a Year 5 pupil who is part of the press team, said: "I was involved with how to promote the exhibition. We designed leaflets and gave a presentation to a big room of journalists. It's been really fun and I have learnt a lot."

The collection ranges from a suit of armour with a secret button revealing hidden weaponry, to a dresser table withholding secret cupboards concealed by dummy book spines.

One piece chosen by the children is an 18th-century snuff box, which had kept its secret for hundreds of years, until curators in 1976 discovered two miniatures of the philosopher Voltaire and his mathematician lover Emilie, marquise du Chatelet.

Emma Bryant, head of learning at the museum, said: "We have really thrown its weight behind it - it's not as though our exhibition has been relegated to the reserve collection, we have some fascinating pieces."

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