Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Arts culture and heritage

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

'Multi-sensory learning'

At the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum a blind child can stroke a horse in the Tudor farm, a deaf child can see iron being worked in the forge and a young person with a learning disability can act in Hamlet. Three years ago the museum decided to extend its educational programme of workshops to better serve children with special educational needs.

‘The museum is wonderful for these children because it is such a multi sensory experience. It engages the senses and gives them something extra that they can’t get in a classroom,’ explains Diana Rowsell, the museum’s head of learning. Set in 50 acres of Sussex countryside the museum contains historic buildings that have been rescued from demolition and rebuilt. The past is brought to life with demonstrations of activities that would have gone on in the buildings, and rare breeds of livestock live on the farm.

Staff at the museum carefully researched the activities that would make the most impact in inspiring and teaching children with a variety of physical disabilities, learning disabilities and emotional and behavioural disorders and came up with a programme of workshops that could be tailored to fit the capabilities of particular groups of children.

‘We work in small enough numbers so that we can really concentrate on them,’ says Rowsell. ‘It’s lovely to see children who perhaps can’t read very well coming out with the right words at the right time in Hamlet. They go away glowing with pride.’

Richard Harris
Chief executive
West Sussex
PO18 0EU
01243 811363
Reg no. 306338


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