Monday, September 26, 2011

Revisiting the museum in Heritage week.

On Saturday we celebrated Heritage Day here in South Africa.
Last week the Iziko Museums kindly opened their doors to the public allowing everyone free entry to any of their museums.
Feeling a little guilty that we hadn't been to many museums this year (what is it with this mother's guilt!?) I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum in Cape Town.
We'd been there two years ago when Michael was a two year old.  So I knew this would be a totally different experience for both of the kids.

Of course Jenna, with her memory like an elephant, never forgot that it was the place we had seen the dinosaur displays.  So she was super excited to return.

I love the road that leads you past the Company Gardens on your way to the museum.  It's looking beautiful with all of the old oak trees dressed in their new green leaves.

On our previous visit the main attraction had been the dinosaurs and the whales.
As the kids had been quite a bit younger then we didn't walk through the whole museum.  
Now that they're a bit older their concentration and interest can be held a bit longer.

So I decided we'd start at the bottom and work our way to the top.
Our first stop was the section which classically houses the "before white man" history.
It is filled with scenes about the Zulus, Bushmen and other African tribes which inhabited our beautiful land before it was discovered.

It was a wonderful, gentle way of teaching the kids about our land's history.  Everything is laid out before them and they asked questions or I pointed out items which I thought they could relate to or would interest them.
Although admittedly I don't think that our museum has much of a wow factor.  (I visited the Natural History Museum and Science Museum when I went to England and I still think this particular museum could be made more interactive for children.)  It has improved since our last visit, so perhaps we'll catch up someday!

Of course the kids are non the wiser and so there were many oohs and aahs coming from them.
Especially in the Sea section.
I convinced Jenna to stand in the whale's mouth-but Michael was not keen on being swallowed up like Jonah!

I don't blame him when you see these creatures face to face they are rather overwhelming!

Listening to their sounds, in the whale sound box, was a little scary for them too, but they were very intrigued by that experience.

There was no convincing Mikey to enter these shark jaws!

But perhaps because he knows these are extinct, I finally managed to convince him to have a photo with the dinosaurs :-)

Sadly it seems we haven't had many dinosaurs discovered here in South Africa so there aren't many bones to see which is what Jenna was hoping for.
She had prepared a clipboard to take along on which to record all of the dinosaurs and who had discovered them.  We couldn't really find that specific info. Thankfully she wasn't put off by the lack of info and just simply enjoyed discovering each new display-even the gory ones!

We did get to see a poster explaining fossilisation, which tied in nicely with our recent visits to the wetlands and our lessons on sandstone and rock formation.
And we saw a short display by one of the museum aides who was demonstrating how they remove the bones from the hard rock.

After all of that learning it was time to get rid of some energy outdoors.
As Jen put it: Mom, I've had enough of this place, please can we leave now?
Time for learning done.........time for play to begin!

Does anybody know where all of the fish have gone to in the pond?

We shared our lunch with the friendly squirrels.........they come up very close to you.
Once Michael almost had one eating out of his hand.

After a walk through the gardens we passed the National Art Gallery.
I was surprised that the kids wanted to go inside and even more surprised to see that entrance was free that day as well!

My kids constantly amaze me simply by what grabs their interest.
Walking around the gallery Michael was intrigued by a photograph display and took himself off on his own guided tour.

Then we discovered Tretchikoff's art work .
They had a display case housing the original dress worn by the "blue faced Chinese lady".
We turned our art tour into a quick scavenger hunt as we walked through the halls of the gallery hunting for the painting in which the dress had been painted.  Finding the painting was easy, but getting Jenna to agree that it was the same dress wasn't as easy.  I guess she was right though-afterall, the original dress was blue not yellow.  A classic opportunity for teaching an artist's license to interpret the world as he sees it!
And then they asked to watch the documentary on Tretchikoff's I said, it amazes me what intrigues them. They sat as still as mice watching the movie, which I thought was totally above their level.  Just goes to show we should never underestimate what our children are capable of or rule out the topics which would interest them!

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that after all of that culture and stillness that they would have needed to move.
But perhaps the bannisters of the art gallery are not the best place for children to climb?!

Perhaps that's why they created the interactive art work out doors where they found a place to use up some energy turning the wheels to make the little lion and man move?!
But before Michael decided to make that into a jungle gym too we used up that pent up energy with a long walk back to our car.

And when we got home this is what they got up to...........

Bushmen in their little skirts adorned with necklaces and armed with digging sticks.  Oh and the panties on the head? That's supposed to be the short curly hair. (She doesn't have a black pair ;-)

I just love it when they recreate their learning experiences through creative play!
Thanks Iziko Museum for the inspiration.