Pupils Stories: Curating our Cabinet

A boat from the collection

Curating our cabinet

The children become curators and explore the Mary Greg objects during an activity called Cherish, Forget, Store, display, discard. The children need to make a decision as to which objects they will ultimately display to share their learning with others. Only five objects can be selected for the cabinet. The gloves are on, the magnifying glasses are out. How will they decide?

What we think and feel about the collection

‘I think Mary was a thoughtful and caring person. She could have been greedy and sold the objects but she didn’t. She passed them on to us because she had no children of her own.’
‘I wouldn’t pick these objects in a shop but now I have learnt about them they are interesting. I think it shows different tastes and different times.’
‘I don’t think Mary was much of a traveller because she only collected everyday objects.’
‘Handling the objects and wearing these gloves makes me feel like a secret agent or a doctor.’
‘The objects make us ask questions.’

The debate

‘Does the sheep fit in with the other objects?’
‘I don’t think we should include the sheep in the display because it looks like an object that you might find today.’
‘The other objects are more interesting than the sheep because they are older.’
'‘I think the stamp should go on display in a magnified case.’
‘I don’t think people would know what the stamp object is so maybe we should take it out?’
‘The boat is a special object and is made from different materials so we should put that in our cabinet.’
‘The boat is also special and delicate.’
‘The fish is made from a rare material, a material that most people would like. It’s a good luck charm for the fishes. Let’s cherish and display it.’
‘I would cherish and display the tea caddy spoon because it’s delicate. You could use it to eat the fish.’
‘We should cherish and display the sand timer because other people won’t have seen it. I haven’t seen anything like it.’
‘You could use the sand timer to see how long it takes to catch the fish.’
‘But after a period of time you might like to store the sand timer instead of displaying it.’
‘What about the keys?’
‘I like the decorative key because it’s detailed. I think Mary collected it because she wanted to find out what it opened.’
‘The other key is ancient, shabby and rusty.’

Our final decision

We have chosen the decorative key, to lock the boat; the boat, to catch the fish; the sand timer, to see how long it takes to catch the fish; the tea caddy spoon, to eat the fish and the fish, which is made from mother of pearl.

Our very own collections

‘I collect turtles made from wood and beads. I don’t think many people’s favourite animal is a turtle.’
‘I collect sea shells when I go to the beach.’
‘I collect colourful and smooth stones from the garden.’
‘I collect pictures with celebrities and store them on my phone.’
‘My nana has collected marbles for thirty years and she has four boxes full. My favourite marble is the gold one.’

The commentary documents observations made by education volunteer Hannah Cook, when she visited Medlock Primary school, Ardwick to work with Year 6 pupils, Amanda McCrann, Gallery Educator and Mary Greg’s collection of curiosities.

Mary Greg workshop

Child in workshop
Find out more about our Mary Greg workshop