LIT­TLE LIVES

EDP Norfolk - - Places - The ex­hi­bi­tion at Lynn Mu­seum, Mar­ket Street, PE30 1NL, runs un­til June 10, 2017. For more in­for­ma­tion see www. mu­se­ums.nor­folk.gov.uk/Lyn­nMu­seum

We all like to look back on our child­hoods with a sense of warmth and nos­tal­gia, but how dif­fer­ent was ours from those en­joyed by chil­dren to­day or those who grew up 200 years ago?

A fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at Lynn Mu­seum – Lit­tle Lives - brings child­hood to life, from the 19th cen­tury to the present day, ex­plor­ing how young peo­ple lived, learned and played.

Imogen Clarke, cu­ra­to­rial teach­ing mu­seum trainee, says “I think the ad­ven­ture and imag­i­na­tion of child­hood is some­thing cap­tured in all of the sto­ries through­out Lit­tle Lives. Though times have changed enor­mously, it is in­ter­est­ing to see how play seems to be a com­mon theme. Three of the chil­dren fea­tured grew up in the days be­fore the in­ter­net, be­fore mo­bile phones, and be­fore the now ubiq­ui­tous use of so­cial me­dia.”

As well as ex­hibit­ing pre­vi­ously un­seen items from the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion, it also gives vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore me­mories from their own youth and it tells the sto­ries of four lo­cal chil­dren who grew up at dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods dur­ing the last 200 years and who all had very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Whilst de­vel­op­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion we looked through Lynn Mu­seum’s fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of child­hood ob­jects for in­spi­ra­tion,” says Imogen. “The four chil­dren we have fo­cussed on were cho­sen be­cause of their per­sonal re­la­tion­ship to the ob­jects on dis­play.”

Ian, Mike, David and Alas­tair Breen grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and went to King Edward VII Gram­mar School in King’s Lynn and their me­mories form part of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“The Breen broth­ers’ story is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing. Sheila Breen, mother of the Breen broth­ers, worked for the mu­seum some years ago and do­nated the boy’s school uni­form and text books to the col­lec­tion,” says Imogen. “We were then able to trace Michael Breen to Korea, where he now lives, through a news­pa­per cut­ting and Michael and his broth­ers were happy to share per­sonal sto­ries and me­mories of their child­hood.”

An­other of the fea­tured chil­dren is Emma Morse, who grew up in the 1990s and noughties.

“Emma went to a lo­cal school and had lots of me­mories of con­tem­po­rary child­hood in King’s Lynn. She re­calls the ex­cite­ment of newly pub­lished Harry Pot­ter books and films and her time as a Brownie. Emma has also kindly loaned us many per­sonal ob­jects from her child­hood to help tell her story.”

The other chil­dren fea­tured were Beatrice Mone­ment, who was a child in the 1850s and played with a dolls house made by her fa­ther, as well as cro­quet and chess, and Elaine Low­eri­son, who was a child in the 1900s and went to the Ruskin School in Heacham. Her fam­ily pho­to­graphs and ephemera have helped to tell the story of this un­con­ven­tional school.

“One story fea­tured in the ex­hi­bi­tion looks at the Ruskin School at Heacham – which was founded in 1900 by Harry Bellerby Low­eri­son. One of the un­usual as­pects of this pri­vately-run school, was that it was for both boys and girls in mixed classes. Mr Low­eri­son be­lieved in en­abling the chil­dren to en­joy sports ac­tiv­i­ties and to make good friend­ships. The house was even nick­named “The Wilder­ness”,” she laughs.

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