Communication: Past, Present and Future - Rumble Conference, 8th March

On Wednesday 8th March, the Rumble Museum at Cheney School in Oxford held an all day event exploring communication in the past, present and future. Asking 200 15-17 year olds, what different 100 years makes, two keynote speakers, and twelve different organisations delivered talks and workshops exploring this question.

The day kicked off with a gripping talk by futurist Sophie Hackford which explored the role of space in our lives already, and in the future. It looked at a range of emerging technology, and gave students a window into space technology from what can be viewed on earth to looking at increasing the number of people living on space stations, and manufacturing in space.

Looking to the past, Rosie Sharkey from The Bodleian Library explored Victorian newspapers to see what people imagined about the future. Printing expert Richard Lawrence introduced the history of printing to students before everyone being able to do their own printed poster on the Rumble Museum's Victorian printing press. Chris Parkin from the History of Science Museum brought machinery from the well-known Marconi Collection to demonstrate the origins of radio, and students were able to make their own circuit radios which worked! Finally, John Conyard from Historical Interpretations brought replicas of the Enigma Machine and other World War Two artefacts to explore communication at the time.

Museum Councils run Egyptian Gallery at the Ashmolean

On Friday evening, 27 Year Eight and Nine Rumble Museum Council students from Cheney School took part in the Ashmolean's "After Hours: Pharaoh Friday" event.
They spent weeks of work on their display boards, prop-making, costumes and activity designs, and last night opened their gallery to the public between 5 and 8pm. They were all in costume as Egyptian gods and characters, with Ptar, Sekhmet, Thoth, Anubis, Nephthys, Bastet, Isis, Khonsu and many others making a divine appearance on the night!
We also displayed our collection of replica scrolls and miniature models of gods and amulets for the public to explore.
Activities and displays included ancient board games, canopic jars, mask-making, jewellery, Egyptian medicine, mummification and pyramids, and more. We are hugely grateful to the team from TORCH - The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and the Ashmolean Museum for inviting us to run our gallery, and to all the many visitors who came to our stalls.

Bottle tops to Books: Rumble's Ecofest comes to Cheney

On Tuesday 11th October, we were delighted to welcome sixteen different organisations and stall-runners to our Eco Festival at Cheney. Between 2 and 4pm, the whole of Year Twelve, as well as many students from younger year groups explored the large range of information and activity stalls run by Headington Liveable Streets, Conservation Optimism, Low Carbon Hub, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Action, Wild Oxfordshire, XROxford, and artist Lucinda Creed.

Flora and the PTA Team ran a fantastic vegan and vegetarian snacks and meals stall. Sophie Quantrell ran an eco-themed books stall., and Cheney Sixth Form Environment Committee ran a Debate Topics stall.

Students were able to take part in a range of eco-themed crafts with Year Nine Museum Council students from bottle top artwork to badge-making and upcycling tin cans. XR Oxford offered a range of beautiful block printing, and Conservation Optimism ran a recipe competition amongst many other things.

From 4 until 5pm, there was a viewing of the film Riverwoods, followed by a short talk by Paul Jepson, who spoke about rewilding: what it is and how it can transform our relationship with the natural world. We are so grateful to everyone who took part.

Exploring our Middle East Collections with Rana Ibrahim

On Thursday 6th October, we were delighted to welcome Rana Ibrahim, museum curator and founder of Iraqi Women: Art and War to visit Cheney School to help us understand more about the beautiful Middle Eastern items which have been loaned and donated to the Rumble Museum.

Rana spoke to Sixth Formers studying the Middle East as part of their History A Level course about the very wide range of objects in the collection. She talked about the prayer mat and prayer beads, explaining how Muslims use Qibla apps to position the mats towards Mecca in order to pray. She explained how the prayer beads were in groups of eleven, making 33 beads, and a prayer would be repeated for each bead. 

She spoke about the geometric and nature-themed patterns of the wall-hanging and pillow case in the collection that was common across Arabic regions. She noted that the small dress in the collection would be a little girl's dress, and was made in Jordan. She pointed out the beautiful embroidery on the edges. There are two children's alphabet books to teach Arabic, and also a brochure for this French-Arabic film festival from 2014.

As well as this, she explained how a beautiful metal serving plate and teapot would have been used in hospitality, with sugar pots, and intricate geometric style patterns.

We are very grateful to Rana for sharing her expertise and helping us identify and understand these objects in their contexts. Sixth Form Historians are now preparing to curate a display of these items in our Lane Building cabinets as part of the many Rumble Museum displays on site.

Museum Council Students Introduce Ai-Da at the Weston Library

On Saturday 10th September, Museum Council Year Nine and Ten students co-hosted Ai-Da the robot at an all day event at the Weston Library as part of Oxford Open Doors. For the whole day, art work and creative writing exploring the possibilities of the future was on display in the main atrium, where the students spoke to members of the public about the various ideas and themes in the exhibition items. These ranged from robot designs for our robots outside at Cheney, to poems and artwork imagining A.I. in the future, to a set of storyboards created as part of our Dystopia Day last term.
At 11 to 12, the students were able to meet Ai-Da, see her create a brand new piece of artwork, and to hear about the reasons behind her creation by Ai-Da's creator, Aidan Mellor. Students spoke to the audience about the different A.I.-related events which they had taken part in throughout the year as part of the Rumble Museum programme, from A.I. Breakfast Talks and a visit to Oxbotica, to a school-wide competition to explore A.I. in art and writing.
Ai-Da appeared again to answer questions from the public in the afternoon in the main atrium.

Dystopia Day at the Rumble Museum

On Tuesday 12th July, we rounded up a season of talks, competitions, artefact displays and discussions with our Dystopia Day!

We were joined by award-winning author Chris Beckett, who has written a number of novels with dystopian themes, and a wide range of talks, activities, workshops, film viewings and stalls ran throughout the day. The day kicked off with an assembly for all Year Eights where Chris introduced some of the ideas behind dystopias, and some well-known and lesser-known examples. 

Chris then spent the day working with 22 Year Nines who, in groups, created their own dystopian storylines and cover artwork, which they presented to visitors at the end of the day. At break times and lunch times in the Library, our Year Eight Museum Council ran a range of themed stalls and activities exploring different dystopian novels. There was Hunger Games knot-tying and camouflage painting, a Scythe quiz, Divergent tattoos (temporary!), Ready Player One activities, an unfolding story scroll, a Logan's Run life clock, and more! We were also joined by Jack from Mostly Books in Abingdon, who brought an enormous range of titles exploring dystopian themes. A refreshments stall featured Handmaid cakes, Hunger Games "vomit" drink, pinkish stew from 1984 and soma pills!

After school, community visitors arrived to explore the stalls and story boards created by Year Nines, with the addition of Hunger Games training outside, including archery and axe-throwing. Chris Beckett then delivered a community talk in which he gave feedback on each of the story boards created during the day. These boards will be turned into displays for 10th September, when the Rumble Museum is co-hosting Ai-Da the robot at the Weston Library all day.

We are very grateful to Chris for spending the day with us, to all our students for their amazing work, and to everyone who came to explore and support amidst the dystopian temperatures!

Creating New Signage for the Rumble Museum

When the museum was awarded full accreditation by the Arts Council in March 2020, it was recommended that we improve museum signage around the school.

We applied for an Accreditation Grant from the South East Museum Development Office to create new signs, and our Year Eight Museum Council are now working with acclaimed designer Naomi Waite on creating a large new sign and map on the back wall in reception, as well as smaller signs around the school to show what is in each building.

The students chose the London Underground map as the basis for their design, and are now exploring how to create separate "lines" which people can follow to see different sorts of artefacts. Ideas such as having a "bee line" with the museum's "must see" items, and things like a nature lover's line are being explored. Naomi is an expert designer who, amongst many other things, created the Alice's Day Signs around Oxford. The students will work throughout this month on their signs, which will be installed this summer!

Dystopia Season at the Rumble Museum - April - July 2022

We held a Dystopia Season at the Rumble Museum from April 25th to mid July 2022. To celebrate our Dystopian Fiction Collection, we organised a range of events including Thursday morning breakfast talks, workshops, projects and film viewings.

For the duration of the season, our front reception cabinet displayed items from our dystopian collections, so do drop into Cheney School main reception to take a look!

Our Thursday morning breakfast talks are listed below, and were available to all students in Year Eight and Nine.

Castle of Our Skins Workshop at the Rumble Museum

We were delighted and honoured to welcome five musicians from the organisation Castle of Our Skins to deliver a workshop with musical performances to Year Tens this week.

Castle of Our Skins is is a concert and educational series which is dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. The visit was organised by Dr Samantha Ege. Samantha is a soloist performer, and the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, University of Oxford.

The workshop introduced influence of spirituals on classical music, encouraging the students to think about the role of music in communities, and linking lyrics and the shape of the spirituals songs to the experiences of enslaved peoples. It explored how songs can be a form of resistance, both in terms of binding a group of people and also in terms of passing on important messages. One example of this was "Wade in the Water" where it was explained to the students that dogs were often used to track down escaping slaves, and being in the water can take away the scents that the dogs are pursuing.

Musicians Ashleigh, Matthew, Francesca and Gabrielle performed each piece after introducing the context to the students, and discussed the emotions invoked by the sound of the music with the students.

It was an amazing experience and we are enormously grateful to everyone involved for such an informative and moving workshop.

Project with Robby the Robot at the Story Museum

Last week, we announced that our Rumble robots had started to speak for the first time, and that The Year Eight Museum Council students and Sixth Form Museum Volunteers had been in the know for a number of weeks, and have kept the plans veiled in secrecy, while inventing stories for the robots to tell when they finally spoke. You can listen to their stories here.

The Story Museum caught wind of our project, and were inspired to think about giving a voice to Robby the Robot who lives at the Story Museum. Robby the Robot starred in the 1956 sci-fi film The Forbidden Planet. He was groundbreaking at the time, though not an actual robot, but one operated by a human inside.

The Story Museum team invited our Museum Council team to visit their amazing museum this week to meet Robby and to start to think about the sorts of things that Robby might see and hear in the museum when he is there after opening hours. Students were able to explore the Whispering Wood and the Enchanted Library, where they were able to step inside some very well-known stories such as Narnia, the Snowman and Noughts and Crosses, while thinking about what stories Robby might tell.

Rumble Museum African Collection featured on the Earth Museum

We are delighted that a number of items from our African Collection have been featured on the Earth Museum.

The Earth Museum is an online museum which hosts objects and the stories connecting these from across the globe.

Over a few sessions in the autumn, Rumble Museum Museum Council students worked with Earth Museum volunteer Naima Mokhtar to create a series of entries about our African items. First they thought a bit about categories of object, and each chose an object or two to work with.

They then worked on short stories or pieces imagining the lives of each object. You can see each entry on the Earth Museum website here.

We are very grateful to have been able to work with the Earth Museum on this project, and look forward to adding further entries in the coming months.

Museum Project students explore the Bate Collection

Year Nine Museum Project students took a trip to the University of Oxford's Bate Collection of Musical Instruments this afternoon to explore one of Oxford's less well-known and very fascinating museums.
We arrived to be greeted warmly by curator Andrew Lamb, and were then able to explore the extensive and highly varied collection. Students were delighted to be allowed to play some of the harpsichords and pianos, as well as to explore the many other instruments on display. These ranged from the familiar - cornets, trumpets, flutes - to the less familiar, such as shawms and serpent horns. Many of the instruments were beautifully and intricately decorated, with elaborate paintings on the underside of harpsichords and engravings in brass instruments.
Andrew explained to us that the Bate Collection grew out of an initial collection of woodwind instruments donated by Philip Bate in 1968. There are over 1000 instruments on display, and University of Oxford students are able to borrow items, making it a unique museum. He talked about how there is an important balance for the museum to strike between preservation and allowing the items to be experienced through touching and playing on them. The group had a range of questions for Andrew, from whether the instruments get tuned (yes, regularly), to whether it is possible to hear what they sounded like (also yes - we were played a recording of what an ensemble of 19th century instruments might have sounded like).
It was a fascinating and very enjoyable visit, which gave the Museum Project students an opportunity to experience a very different sort of museum to ones we have previously visited. We are very grateful to Andrew for welcoming us to the Bate Collection and talking to us about it.