There’s an Ichthyosaur at the University!

By Rachael Shinebaum

rs1On 8th August 2018 I attended the Lapwoth Museum event: There’s an Ichthyosaur in the Museum! The event was part of several workshops provided over the summer holiday, so I attended with my 5-year old son, Seb. I have visited The Lapworth Museum several times before but never when a special event has been taking place.

The workshop was advertised on the museums website which I had previously specifically visited to see if there were any such events taking place. The attendance levels may have been even higher if the event was advertised around the university or if an email had been sent to staff and students. The event was an excellent way to introduce children to the University. Seb had not been before and during our walk to the museum from the train station he was very excited about all the things to see on campus, especially ‘Old Joe’.

RS2When we arrived we were given an activity sheet and directed through to the museum. It was instantly apparent that there were a lot of staff and volunteers walking around the museum and they were approachable and very helpful; they made the effort to speak to Seb and he seemed more confident once he had spoken to them to explore the rest of the museum.

The various activity tables were pitched at just the right level for my sons’ age group. There were colouring tables, dinosaur information tables along with the usual interactive features of the museum. RS3


The atmosphere in the museum was excellent! There were a lot of children and adults interacting with activities and we were able to see the Icthyosaur being created by artist Bob Nicholls while we were there. The event was free to enter so it was accessible to all which was a very good feature. Unfortunately, we did not get to meet Mary Anning, the geologist. It may have been advantageous to advertise a timetable of when Mary would be available to chat so that we could have planned our trip around her availability.


As an adult visiting the museum on a day that had been advertised for children I was still very entertained, and I specifically enjoyed the section that that had volunteers who knew a lot of information about Ichthyosaurs, some of it was very surprising and it was good to have real Ichthyosaur fossils to look at.

There are luggage labels and pens at the exit to the museum to add to a wall full of labels. For each label a visitor can fill in their name, age and postcode, then on the reverse a comment about their visit.

This is an excellent way of collecting a lot of relevant data about the reach and attendance of the event. This is an idea I will take away to use for my own outreach events in the future.


Overall, we had an excellent visit to the Lapworth Museum and

we would very much like to visit another special event in the future!