Mammoths of the Ice Age


Conor HullBy Conor Hull, Community Engagement Officer

We were so excited about hosting the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition here at the museum that we decided to share our excitement through a mini-outreach programme. We ran a series of visits to community groups around Edinburgh and worked on exciting in-depth projects with Knightsridge Primary, West Lothian and the Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital.

We travelled to community groups with our boxes of skulls, teeth and even a real elephant poo. We told Ice Age tales of Mungo the mammoth: poor Mungo has an identity crisis – he doesn’t want to be a mammoth anymore! This leads him on a journey to find other animals he might like to be instead. He makes new friends and when a fire sweeps through the woods, he saves the day, realising it’s not so bad being a mammoth after all.Afterwards there was a craft activity where the children decorated a cotton bag in a cave painting style.

Mammoths on the move

Conor Hull, Community Engagement Officer, showing a little girl elephant poo at Dads Rock, Westerhailes (left). Mungo and his new friends (right).

Above: Conor Hull, Community Engagement Officer, showing a little girl elephant poo at Dads Rock, Westerhailes (left). Mungo and his new friends (right).

We visited…

  • Murrayburn Childminders group
  • Circle Haven, Craigroyston x2
  • Lone Parent Scotland Fathers’ Group
  • Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre
  • Gilmerton Community Centre
  • Dads Rock, Westerhailes, WHALE Arts
  • Knightsridge Primary School (P3)
  • Carrickvale Community Centre
  • Royal Mile Primary (P1)

Across these nine different organisations we reached 177 kids and 150 adults. Seven out of the nine groups decided to come along and visit the exhibition as a result of the outreach.

Laura Bennison and Karyn McGhee at Circle Haven, Craigroyston

Laura Bennison and Karyn McGhee at Circle Haven, Craigroyston.

After our visit to Knightsridge Primary, the class decided to base all class work for the next 11 weeks around the topic. They transformed their classroom into an Ice Age cave, complete with cave paintings.

Project work at Knighstridge Primary

Project work at Knighstridge Primary.

They designed their own beasts by mixing and matching real Ice Age animals and they even wrote their own story – the next chapter in Mungo’s adventures!

Mungo the mammoth

Mungo the mammoth and his mum.

You can also download the story here [PDF 1.3MB].

Two classes from the school came in to visit the exhibition on 25thMarch. To top it all off we asked our good friends Macastory to come out to the school and perform the show they performed at the National Museum of Scotland over the February half term.

Macastory

Macastory go Ice Age.

The Macastory crew bring Ice Age mayhem to Knightsridge Primary

The Macastory crew bring Ice Age mayhem to Knightsridge Primary.

It was a roaring success – lots of fun, while painting a fascinating picture of life in the age of the mammoths.

The feedback from the groups has been extremely positive. Here’s what some group members had to say:

“I thought I’d let you know in end of session feedback the group you visited with the Ice Age outreach said it was the best session! They would like more of the story plus craft as they particularly enjoyed it!”

“The visit to Museum was fantastic. Lots of things to see and touch”

“I’ve been telling everyone about it, and telling them to go to the Museum!”

A guest post by Morag Brown, aged 7.

Morag and her friends Alexander Marshall (8) and Jessica Grier (8) from the ESMS Junior School, Edinburgh helped the National Museum of Scotland with the launch of the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition and Murdo the Mammoth bus. Here she tells her story about a mini mammoth’s adventure.

I went on an orange bus with my friends Jessica and Alexander and it looked like people were in it and it had a big huge mammoth on the outside. We wore some special mammoth outfits which had round heads and a suit which was quite boiling and hairy.

Morag, Alexander and Jessica crossing the road in front of the Mammoth bus.

Morag, Alexander and Jessica crossing the road in front of Murdo the Mammoth bus outside the National Museum of Scotland.

A lady from the Edinburgh Evening News came and took pictures of us and there were pictures of us walking across the road outside the museum and lots of us playing inside and outside the bus. We went on the front page of the newspaper and inside it.

Edinburgh Evening News front page featuring Morag, Alexander and Jessica with the Murdo the Mammoth bus,

The next week, we went to the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition to meet some people from the newspapers and television to have some more pictures and video taken.

Alexander, Morag and Jessica hiding in the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition © Ian Jacobs

Alexander, Morag and Jessica hiding in the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition © Ian Jacobs

There were lots of pictures taken of me and my friends in the Mammoths exhibition and they appeared in the newspapers the next day all over Scotland and United Kingdom.

Morag having a staring competition with a Sabre tooth cat. © Ian Jacobs

Morag having a staring competition with a Sabre tooth cat in the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition © Ian Jacobs

My favourite picture was the one of me and the Sabre tooth cat having a staring competition.  Me and my friend Jessica were on the television news wearing our mammoth outfits talking to a lady and Alexander was really busy playing with games around the exhibition. Jessica’s mum also went on the television news but my mummy didn’t want to speak to the people from the television.

Morag beneath the Colombian Mammoth in the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition © Ian Jacobs

Morag beneath the Colombian Mammoth in the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition © Ian Jacobs

The exhibition is really, really good and the best bits are the bones and plastic people and the big mammoth was almost touching the roof and was as big as a bus! I liked the mammoth head fighting game with tusks and I was playing this with Jessica and the tusks got stuck together. Alexander also went ice skating in his hot and hairy mammoth outfit too!

I really liked the exhibition and when my friends Philip and Kyle from Boston in America came to Scotland on holiday I took them to the Mammoths exhibition. I would like to go again before it ends.

Morag with her friends from Boston, USA when they came to visit Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition at National Museum of Scotland.

Morag with her friends from Boston, USA when they came to visit Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition at National Museum of Scotland.

A guest post by Tom Carroll, Fathers’ Worker, Lone Parent Scotland, with introduction by Conor Hull, Community Engagement Officer

During autumn the Learning and Programmes team brought the Ice Age to family learning groups around Edinburgh. We have visited six groups so far, including the Circle Haven group at Craigroyston Primary, a group of childminders in Sighthill and a family craft group at the Goodtrees Centre in Gilmerton. We told Ice Age tales about Mungo the mammoth and his friends, gave children the chance to touch real fossil teeth and replica sabre tooth skulls, before creating their own cave paintings.

One highlight was our Poo Detectives activity. Looking through mammoth dung is an important way that scientists can find out about their diet and habitat. Anything scatological is universally popular with children so we designed an activity around this important science. Poo Detectives and other Ice Age activities will be running at National Museum of Scotland to accompany our new exhibition Mammoths of the Ice Age, which runs from 24 January – 20 April 2014.

A workshop was set up to teach a group of children, aged between two and 10 years old, all about mammoths and mastodon. The children had some ideas about these animals, mainly through watching the Ice Age movies.

To start the session, a visual representation of time was created. Some children stood up in front of the class and held a long piece of string and attached pictures representing humans, dinosaurs and mammoths. The space in between the pictures represented time. The children were amazed to learn that the mammoths lived millions of years after dinosaurs.

From here the children were shown bits of a mammoth and had to guess which part it was. There were a lot of guesses and with a little help from his dad one child got one of them right. The larger of the two parts proved to be a bit more difficult for all parties, but finally we were told it was a mammoth’s tooth. All were amazed at how big it was!

Everyone was amazed at the size of the mammoth tooth

Everyone was amazed at the size of the mammoth tooth.

The group were also shown skulls of a cave bear and sabre tooth cat.

Then, everyone prepared themselves for the next session. Some of the children had heard about what was coming and could not wait to get started.

The items were all laid out: straw, different types of flower seeds, bits of stockings, lemon juice and tomato ketchup. A talk was given by Conor around what mammoths ate, after which the children were given a piece of paper with certain ingredients listed on it, and all the ingredients were placed around the room. With help from their fathers the children had to find and put the ingredients into the piece of stocking they were given, add some water and squeeze and mix all the ingredients up. After draining the water the stockings were cut open to reveal the mess that popped out, much to the delight, laughter and squeals of “it’s disgusting” from the children.

Who made this mess?

Who made this mess? Everyone enjoyed making mammoth poo.

After swapping the trays around, having a good look and sniffing the ingredients, guesses were made of which type of elephant or mammoth had made the mess.

After a short break it was back into the room, aprons on, to do some cave paintings onto cloth bags. The children had the use of some stencils, which included prehistoric animals and cavemen. Both children and fathers had fun stenciling away.

Making cave paintings

Making cave paintings.

A short walk around the museum whilst the bags dried out, then once all the tidying up had been done it was time to head home.

All the children had a great time learning about mammoths, handling the skulls of the cave bear and the sabre tooth cat, and even more fun making the poo: “Next time can I make brown poo?”  said one child. The fathers enjoyed the session as well; they know their children like dinosaurs so the chance to take part in such a workshop was a joy to all. All look forward to returning in the New Year to see the Mammoths of the Ice Age exhibition and hopefully the children will remember to bring their painted bags along.

Cave bear skull

Cave bear skull.

On behalf of all the children and fathers, a big thank you to all who helped make this an enjoyable session.

Anne McMeekinBy Anne McMeekin, Marketing Officer

As you may have noticed, the Mammoths of the Ice Age are making their way to the National Museum of Scotland this month for our next major exhibition, Mammoths of the Ice Age, created by The Field Museum, Chicago.

Here in the marketing department, work began on the exhibition way back in July 2013. One of the key roles of the marketing team is to come up with a campaign look and feel that can be rolled out across all of our print and digital communications on and off site and finding something that works well in all of these areas is no mean feat!

Not all mammoths were from snowy climes

Not all mammoths were from snowy climes – some lived on islands off the coast of California!

The first step when working on any campaign is to identify the target audience through a combination of research, analysing visitor figures and getting to grips with the key messages within the exhibition. Because Mammoths of the Ice Age is a touring exhibition, we had the additional advantage of knowing who the exhibition had been popular with when it had shown at other museums.

Pygmy mammoths were the size of a horse

Not all mammoths were enormous – pygmy mammoths were the size of a horse!

The exhibition is full of interactives and interpretation for children as well as adults so we knew that attracting families to the exhibition was key. We also knew that we had to create something that was fun and engaging and creative agency Sumo Design’s idea to illustrate unusual or surprising mammoth facts in a playful way was a clear winner – even if you don’t come to the exhibition you can learn some mammoth facts from the posters!

Of course, the exhibition is still to open so we will have to wait and see if the campaign has been a success but it’s been great to see the graphic style and mammoth facts embraced across the organisation, from a furry launch event invite to the exhibition trailer created by the Digital Media team.

Over the coming months you should see our mammoth campaign popping up all over Edinburgh, from newspaper adverts and posters in your local café to banners outside the museum and a mammoth bus called Murdo… Keep your eyes peeled!

Murdo the Mammoth bus

Murdo the Mammoth bus.

Mammoths of the Ice Age ran between 24 January-20 April 2014 at the National Museum of Scotland.