Those Who Play – An Early Years Gallery for Norwich Castle
Gateway to Medieval England is a £13.5-million project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to improve the visitor experience at Norwich Castle and ensure that it is protected for future generations. It will transform the historic stone Keep across all of its 5 floor levels, making it accessible for the first time in its 900-year history. In 2020 you will be able to explore one of Europe’s finest medieval buildings, decorated and interpreted as a magnificent Norman royal palace.
Some key aims are to create inspiring and family-friendly spaces, enhance our Early Years provision and create a gallery designed specifically for Early Years learning. The ground floor of the Keep will become an immersive space for children to discover the stories of Norwich Castle, and will include a separate Early Years gallery.
This dedicated gallery will be aimed at under-5s, and is large enough for 20 children with adults (approx. 4m x 7m). The versatile space will be accessible to all and will have a multi-sensory, interactive approach to encourage children to communicate with each other and their adults, learn social skills and build an understanding of the space around them. It will also provide a safe space for children from 0–7 years old to explore and discover the medieval theme of Norwich Castle.
We wish to build on our current Early Years offer, and will be taking inspiration from Early Years galleries in museums across the country, which often take different approaches. Some have permanent interactive areas like the National Maritime Museum in London, while others are quite empty but often have activities led by museum facilitators, such as Manchester Museum.
As parents of young children, we would love to know what you’d like to see in the redeveloped space, and what you think works and doesn’t work for young children in museums.
For example, should there be real museum objects on display, or replica objects that children can hold and investigate?
The building is also an important museum ‘object’ itself, and the walls in this area have been carved with graffiti by prisoners from when the Castle was used as a gaol. Should this graffiti and the stories behind it form part of the story of the Early Years gallery?
Do you think we could talk about the construction of the building itself and its vast alterations over the last 900 years? What is the best way to do this?
We’d love to hear your suggestions for our Early Years space, or maybe you’ve had a really good Early Years experience in another museum or gallery that you’d like to tell us about?
You can email your responses to email@example.com– we look forward to hearing from you. For more information on the Gateway to Medieval England project, please visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/norwich-castle
WCs, baby changing, buggy storage and changing places toilets form a part of the wider Gateway to Medieval England project and are included elsewhere in the transformation of the Castle Keep and wider museum.