Schools get a closer look in 1884

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Woman holding a bird skeleton

To continue our series of blogs celebrating the World Museum's 150th anniversary, we're looking into the archives at an important development in the museum's educational program.

On the 6 May 1884, the museum became the first in the country have a loans service for schools. From our records, written by Rev. Henry Higgins the Chairman of the museum, we can see that:

'...a communication was made from the Committee of the Library, Museum, and Gallery of Art, inquiring if duplicate specimens in the Museum could be used for educational purposes in connection with the Liverpool School Board.'

It was decided that the museum would loan out; '...a number of natural history specimens likely to prove servicable to teachers in giving object lessons.'

Rev. Higgins thought that local children would be; '...interested and delighted with objects of beauty or skill with which they are unfamiliar....A specimen of considerable excellence, say a mineral or a shell, will not only assist the teacher in firmly implanting the instruction he wishes to give on its geographical distributon, place in nature, and economic applications, but the beautiful and uncommon thing itself, it sent amongst children to be handled with care, and felt, and looked at closely, will, I am firmly persuaded, excercise a good moral and refining influence on some of them.'

Some of the objects being used in the loans service included a cabinet of coal and coal-plants, trays of crustacea (e.g. crabs) and bird skeletons.

Today at the museum you can handle items in our Clore Natural History Centre and Weston Discovery Centre, as we continue Rev. Higgins' idea that; getting a closer look at remarkable natural objects can inspire us all!