Art and Science of Noticing Workshops at Bradford Museums

How Bradford’s museums and galleries are inspiring children and instilling communication, art and literacy skills


When the new National Curriculum was announced in 2013, it gave us an opportunity to review our schools learning offer. Many of our education programmes were fun and interactive but heavily tailored to narrow curriculum needs. We knew there was scope for a more child-centred approach, which used the parts of our collections that young people were interested inspire and excite

Exploring the collections

This thinking inspired our Art and Science of Noticing workshops which have been delivered since September 2014 and are offered to both primary and secondary schools.
The workshops bring young people into our museums and galleries and actively encourage them to explore our diverse collections and find out for themselves what excites them.
During the workshops, we start to develop young people’s abilities to notice small details about objects and articulate what it is about the objects that interests them most.

This is followed by a drawing exercise where they can depict the objects on paper, and learn how to use pencils to control depth and tone. Over the course of the workshops, they get to draw a number of objects and details that they are interested in.

The sessions conclude with a literacy session in which we encourage the children to answer questions about their favourite item: what it is; where it came from; what adjective they might use to describe it; a simile they might use for it; a question they might ask of it. These questions and answers are then used by the young people to write and edit small poems, either individually or collectively.

The sessions have proven very popular with local schools, with some schools visiting regularly for this purpose. The children taking part have also brought their parents and families to our museums to share their enthusiasm.

Since the workshops started, we have run over 100 sessions for over 2,500 participants. The Art and Science of Noticing was recently shortlisted for the Museums and Heritage Educational Initiative Award 2015.

Being shortlisted for the award made us very proud, but our greatest satisfaction comes from the way the sessions excite the participants. They combine art, literacy, enquiry and analysis in a fun way that sends away the children – and even their teachers – buzzing with what they have experienced.


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