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Museum and Gallery Events

The museum and gallery are now temporarily closed while we start our exciting new redevelopment project GLaM. 
Please visit the official GLaM webpage to find out more about what we are doing and how we hope to improve our services in the future.
Family History

Create a family archive at home

Many families keep documents, photographs, objects, heirlooms, and a whole range of other items to preserve their family history and stories. They may be stored away and forgotten in attics, garages and cupboards or digitally on computers and phones. Museums and Galleries archive, store and display items to preserve and share their history for future generations and you can do the same with your family history!

What is an archive?

An archive is a collection of physical or digital records providing information about something from the past. Archives help us to preserve stories and memories. You can create archives for many things, including an object, event, a place, person or group of people.
Making a family archive can encourage children to engage with family history in a fun way and help with research, organising, numbering and writing skills.

Collect your family treasures:

Our museum collects local history items which tell us something important about the local area and its people. This involves collecting both historical and contemporary items.
Your family archive could include anything that has a special significance to your family. If you could choose an object to keep in your family archive, what would it be?
The items you select could include family heirlooms and photographs or personal belongings valued by members of your family e.g. newspaper or magazine clippings, medals, diaries, old toys or jewellery.
Pile of family photographs
  1. Work together to look around your home and choose a selection of your treasured objects to start a family archive. Search through your family photos and pull out some treasured ones.
  2. Gather your chosen family treasures in one place. As you bring together your items, preserve the original order whenever possible.
  3. Investigate an object, document or photograph using “Think, Puzzle, Explore”.
  4. Discuss your item and the story behind it.

Explore your family treasures:

Museum curators try to find out as much as they can about objects so they can identify and effectively interpret the objects. Encourage children to ask questions about the family treasures you’ve selected and to hold objects themselves. Holding family heirlooms and photographs can make the past come alive.
Think: What do you think about this item?
Puzzle: What questions do you have about this item?
Explore: What does the item make you want to explore?
Tip: Older family members might be able to provide further details and the stories behind family heirlooms and photographs to make items more interesting and memorable for children.
  • Who currently owns the item and what is their full name?
  • What is the item and what is it made of?
  • When and where was it made? How old is it?
  • Do you know who made it?
  • How long has it been in the family?
  • How did the current owner get the item and how did it come into the family originally?
  • Why is the object important to the owner or other family members?
  • Is there a photo of a family member from the time associated with the object?
  • Is there anything else that you can think of to add? A story, a quote or an anecdote?
Museum Community Corner featuring Kettering Lodge Bowling Club in 2017

Memorabilia from the Kettering Lodge Bowling Club display at the Museum in April 2017.

Children display from the Museum's VE 75 exhibition in February 2020

Memorabilia from the VE 75 exhibition at the Museum in February 2020.

Record your findings within a word document, journal, scrapbook, audio recording, database or spreadsheet. Be as creative with it as you want!

Make labels for your treasures

Museum labels tell us important facts, including what an object is, where it is from, what it is made of, when it was made and who owns it or donated it. They can also tell visitors the importance of an object and why we have it in our collection.
Giving an archived item a label can help to uniquely identify the item from a collection or from within storage. Museum and archive labels usually consist of a combination of letters, numbers and words.
Use what you already know about the item and pick out the main facts including:
  • What is the item and what is it made of?
  • When and where was it made? How old is it?
  • Who currently owns the item and what is their full name?
  • Do you know who made it?
  • Look closely at an object and record its description.
Items that are added to the museum collection go through a process known as accessioning. This includes giving an each item a unique number.
  1. Give your items a unique number, using a system that works well for your family. Each item you archive should be numbered in order, for example, Object 1, Object 2, Object 3. If the object is part of a collection, include a collection number, for example, 'Collection 3, Object 2'. Always include the year the object dates to, where possible to help identify it.

    Example: Object unique number: 1993.3.2 (beginning with the year it’s from, its collection number and its object order number.)

Here are two examples of labels from the museum:

Both labels share the story behind the item. You could include some personal anecdotes or insights from people who were there or who remember. They can add emotion and significance to your label.

Handwritten Saxon urns label from the Museum
Word-processed label for a pottery fragment in the museum
2. Once finished, attach your label to the item or keep them together in a safe place so you can preserve history!

Family Activity: Make a memory box, cabinet of curiosities or lighted display box

Craft Activities

Visit our activities page for fun and creative ways to display your favourite belongings and family treasures. Including instructions and inspiration suitable for all ages.

Read more About Craft Activities

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