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A safari on home soil

Date Posted: 10/10/2014

School: Bridge and Patrixbourne CE Primary School, Canterbury, Kent    
KS: 2
Destination: Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park, Kent

A group of Year 2 and 3 pupils from Bridge and Patrixbourne CE Primary School embarked on an exciting safari at the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent, led by the museum’s education officer Keith Dunmall. 

The museum won the Culture Pros Pick section of the 2014 Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence, a category run in partnership with the Guardian newspaper’s Culture Professionals Network.

Set in the 250-acre Quex country park on the Isle of Thanet, the Powell-Cotton Museum was established in 1896 by Major Percy Powell-Cotton to house natural history museum specimens and cultural objects collected on expeditions to Asia and Africa.

He was a pioneer in the use of dioramas, or detailed scenes, to display mounted mammals in representations of their natural habitats.

The detailed settings are outstanding examples based on their size, quality and imagery, and other galleries contain local archaeology as well as textiles, weaponry and a range of ceramics, jade and ivory from Europe, China and Japan assembled by six generations of the Powell-Cotton family. 

So how did the class get on?

Class teacher Julia Perfect said: “The Year 3 classes have been going to the museum for the past three years as an opportunity to explore a wide range of animal habitats, different cultures, hear stories of how the artefacts were collected, enjoy the gardens, and visit the house.

The museum is a place I knew well from my childhood days. When looking for somewhere to visit that would be easy to get to and provide an enjoyable, relaxing day out I knew that even though there might not be direct links to current Year 3 curriculum, it would certainly provide an educational environment and stimulate much discussion.

The visit gives the children opportunities to increase their general knowledge, pose questions, ‘think outside the box’ and consider the past, and contemplate the future in a truly fun, innovative manner.”

Dressed as Major Powell-Cotton, Keith incorporated stories through drama, asked thought-provoking questions and answered the children’s myriad of queries.

After lunch in the garden the group explored the grounds before returning to the museum to hear further multi-cultural stories from Keith and spending free time to look around the house and other galleries.

Julia said that, in the pupils own words, the highlight of the day was: “The past way of life for different cultures and the history behind the collections.”

She added: “They enjoyed all of it. However, their favourite parts seem to be seeing all the animal ‘models’ and exploring the gardens.”

"Lots of new learning takes place. The children find everything about it fascinating.”

Julia praised Keith’s enthusiasm at bringing the museum to life and said: “The museum is spacious and members of staff are very friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable.

Keith has a fantastic ability to spread humour and make even the dullest looking object become something spectacular.

Very few children have ever visited it, so lots of new learning takes place. The children find everything about it fascinating.”

In addition to individual educational visits, the museum offers one-year educational memberships that cost £150 for schools of up to 200 pupils and £275 for larger schools.

In most cases membership is less than museum entry for a year group and benefits included unlimited visits and one free hire of the meeting space, allowing schools to organise regular trips that can focus on a particular topic.

For more information contact:


School Travel Organiser's Guide