Se7en’s 52 Week Challenge #4: How to Turn a Collection into a Museum

Maybe you guys enjoy visiting a fabulous museum as much as we do… the more hands on and interactive the better. The things is, it is one thing to visit a museum and it is quite another to live in one. I often blog about decluttering and keeping surfaces clear, but what about all the accumulated treasures. Because one man’s clutter is another man’s museum and all that. Not to mention that I live with quite a collection of kids and if nothing else, kids are designed to collect things. No-one returns from an amble empty handed… an outing, a trip, just a quick visit are all good reasons to collect and gather.

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Children are natural collectors, and to be honest I love to see what they collect. They are driven to gather things on nature walks, piles of papers and museum pamphlets, special little things and well not so special little things. I am for letting them collect what they must collect and quietly discarding what I just can’t handle – think the child that collected two bags of bones from a picnic spot recently… (no those were not ancient artefacts at all) they had to go. But piles of empty sea-shells brought up by the tide or stones gathered on an evening amble… that’s fine. Feathers, sticks and so on… We have a spot outside in the garden for collecting natural factual goodies as they come in the gate. But still there is more. So amidst all the ongoing decluttering it was time to build our own museum. To sort, discard, organise and present.


  1. An Outing: Well naturally there are lots of lovely museums to visit and we make good use of Museum day and Heritage Day, when most of our museums are free. And if you are anything like us and sometimes you just want to see something new and exciting, then there are bazillions of wonderful museums to visit virtually. In fact if you have a museum you are longing to visit, even on the far side of the world then google them and head straight and follow their link into the education section. You will find heaps of online fun to enjoy.
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  3. A Challenge: We needed a challenge, and it is an on-going challenge… we wanted to coral all our collections into one spot. I have a plan, it is a good one… and this is really just the beginning of it. The first decision that had to be made was just what were we collecting… because when we put all our collections in one spot – trust me, we had a lot of them. Turns out we have a map collection from ancient National Geographics and friends around the world; we have a fantastic postcard collection from previous postcard swaps; not to mention all the natural factual collections; and of course all those little treasures gathered on our collective travels.
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    An historical home

  5. Something to Learn: We took a look at museum floor plans. Most museums have a map of their floor plan online, so that you can pre-prepare yourself for an interesting visit. Floor plans can be intriguing, and not all museums are the same by any means. Some museums had picnic spots amidst their display rooms, most museums have a hands-in room, and lets be honest it is always good to know if there is a coffee shop corner. The floor plans that intrigued my kids the most were those of historical homes… there is a lot to look at and think about and imagine… when considering who might have lived there and who might have played there.
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  7. Something to Discover: We created a miniature museum… and what will follow is weeks of discovery under the microscope… there is so much to explore and discover in a whole new world of exploration.
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  9. Create a Museum in Se7en Steps: We decided to create a continental museum. Who knew that we had been to so many places and had friends strewn so far and wide… there are a couple of little surprises in each box.
  10. Most collections come in bits and pieces, that is the nature of collections… so you need a number of suitable containers.

    1. Sort your collection into things that you must keep and discard the rest. It helps to have a good look at your collection and to have an idea of the volume and the size of your accumulated stuff… believe me you will have to show some discernment and throw a few extraneous objects along the way.
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    3. Find suitable containers. It looks good to have containers that are all the same shape and size for a particular collection. We had a heap of boxes from a previous project. Look around you probably have containers ready to use.
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    5. The first part of the project was to paint them white…
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    7. Then decorate away… Stickers were our friends, but really this is the time to get into decorating.
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    9. Pop your collections into their boxes… we had lots of little artefacts for continental boxes: beads, cards, tiny books, nick nacks, fridge magnets… literally look around your home and you will most likely find treasures that you didn’t even know you had.
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    11. Labelling and categorising is a very important part of museum collections. Make a list of what is in your collection and keep it in the box. Also consider things that you might like to add to your collection. For example, we actually have nothing in our South America Box… how can that be? We totally drew a blank and will have to put our thinking caps on.
    12. Finally, admire your museum and show it to friends. There is nothing worse than a museum that is not on display, ours is in a quite central place and folk are welcome to take it down and examine it in detail.
  11. Make it a Habit to Look After Your Collections: Looking after your treasures and collections is something that needs to be done properly. By specifying the things that we collect it is easy to decide what gets to stay and what doesn’t, when we are decluttering. Also, by declaring a certain collection a museum has meant that those items are so much better cared for, rather than dropped at the bottom of junk drawer, when we clear the surfaces, and forgotten.
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  13. Something to Present: Some of the Hoods really rose to the occasion and created fabulous mini-museums… the rock collection deserves a special mention and it’s own special post is looming.
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  15. The Museum Gallery:

Turns out there is something very relaxing about creating an ordered collection and pottering around and arranging and rearranging treasures, that would otherwise be jammed out of the way and completely forgotton. There are so many different “museums” or collections you can create… we made a continental collection for this post, we also have a mini-museum collected in petri dishes, and a shelf in our courtyard devoted to natural factual finds. I am sure that if we looked a little closer we would find more things that we can gather and store and by the end of the year we should have a working museum and a little place to visit for drawing inspiration…

The Challenge Collection

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Last year a number of followers asked us to blog about the sort of things that we learn during family school… and this year we are blogging the answer to that question in a series of Weekly Challenges. In each challenge we will try to include: Somewhere to visit; something to ask; something to learn; something to discover; something to make; something to work on; something to present and so on. Well we began with enthusiasm and then the year simply got away from us… well we are back and the dozens of ideas that have been lurking on the back burner will be begin to emerge again…

Challenge #1: The Big Book Challenge…

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Challenge #2: The Best Bread Bake-Off…

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Challenge #3: Computer Maintenance…

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11 Replies to “Se7en’s 52 Week Challenge #4: How to Turn a Collection into a Museum”

  1. Love the museum idea. A has to do a collectors badge for Voortrekkers and has decided to sort out her rather extensive hell collection and use that.
    C last Saturday spent “A night at the museum” with his Voortrekker troupe in the Ditsong museum of Natural history. They had so much fun and got to explore every corner of the museum at night with a guide all to themselves.

  2. Hay Cat… Turns out museums are so much fun. And a night at the museum sounds like the best night out ever… that is totally, totally cool. Hope you all have the best weekend ever!!!

  3. Thanks Marcia, you would love how much more intentional the gathering of natural treasures has become – is it museum worthy or not? I hope you have had a restful weekend, sending love!!!

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