Mindful Museums for Worry Monsters

Soothe cares + help historians of the future!

In worrying times wandering museums and galleries has always been a good way to get a little peace and perspective for me. Whilst lockdown means these havens are out of bounds, in some ways their doors have never been more open and collections so accessible as they adapt their content to be shared online. Emily Thomas, Community Engagement Officer of the brilliant Headstone Manor & Museum has been telling me about their new Mindful Museums resources. Something to inspire and soothe us in these troubled times AND provide the museum with a way to collect your stories of history in the making. Tell us more Emily…

‘Wellbeing’ is a word that we often hear in our everyday life, and one that is becoming more common in the heritage sector. Museums are beginning to be recognised as places that can have a hugely positive impact on visitors’ wellbeing and museums are starting to recognise this quality in themselves as well. Headstone Manor and Museum is currently developing a Wellbeing Tour of the museum; a small sheet that visitors can pick up at the start of their trip and delve in and out of whenever they please, following the short wellbeing activities dotted around the site. However, with the current global crisis of Covid-19, those plans have been put on hold for the time being and we had to get creative!

The beautiful Headstone Manor slumbers but the Museum is actively looking for your stories during lockdown! / © Headstone Manor and Museum

Mindful Museums at home

Being creative whilst working from home required some patience, and 24 hours of Facebook messenger chatting! Since everybody is now working from home, we have started to adapt multiple aspects of our museum for our online audience; we currently have:

  • Bill the Duck’s Time Travelling Tour (a tour of the museum, site and Harrow for all ages)*
  • 'Headstone History Detectives (Harrow related activities based on our school and family sessions)*
  • Mini Magical Museum (an online version of our Mini Museum sessions for under 5’s)*

Then we thought about our Wellbeing Trail and how this could become virtual too. It’s so important to look after our mental health in uncertain times like this, and keeping a diary is one way of letting your thoughts out and reflecting in a healthy way. So we created the Mindful For Museums sheet; a quick 5 minute diary entry sheet with a few reflective questions and space to be creative (if you feel like it!).

*Nb. You can find all these activities on our Facebook page and they will soon be uploaded to our website (currently undergoing maintenance.)

Your mindfulness makes a difference

Help historians of the future!

‘Mindful For Museums was picked as the title for this project because we want to encourage people to get involved, safely in the knowledge that not only is this good for themselves, it might also help their local, or national, museums! As many people have recently mentioned, contemporary collecting is so important in times of a global crisis in order to capture how life has really been affected; but that’s a little difficult when most of us are at home, and not allowed closer than 2 metres! So capturing people’s emotions, thoughts, and daily routines is one way we can continue to gather our collective history.

We’ve also added some Mindful For Museums activities for children and the whole family to get involved in. There’s now an Our Mindful Museum sheet (in which you make your own museum from objects in your home, to help us rethink the spaces we’re living in) and a Mindful For Museums For Kids (a more child friendly 5 minute diary, including a tear off and throw away Worry Monster section!). You can download all the activities in the ‘Find Out More’ section below, and they can also be found on our social media and website. Please feel free to use them, or to just nick our ideas and make your own (we’re not precious)! If you have any ideas you’d like to share we’d love to hear them! Please feel free to email me, or message us on our social media, or just use our hashtag #MindfulForMuseums.

Thanks for reading!

Find out more (and get involved!)

Emily Thomas

About Emily Thomas

Emily is currently Community Engagement Officer at Headstone Manor and Museum, in Harrow. She is interested in finding fun and exciting ways to engage visitors of all ages in museums. A special interest is also the struggles of young people getting into the Museum sector, as technically, she is one. Although she doesn’t feel like it after a session with Joe Wicks.