Banging the drums for schools' explorer day at Maidstone Museum!

Almost 170 years ago, Maidstone man and Victorian explorer Julius Brenchley left the town on a voyage of discovery. He would spend the next 22 years of his life travelling the world, collecting artefacts from foreign lands before bequeathing his collection to Maidstone Museum upon his death in 1873.

I reference Brenchley today because I dropped into the museum last week as it played host to a schools' 'Explorer day'. This initiative is part of the Museums and Schools Project which aims to inspire children to become regular museum users.

It's a brilliant idea and it's all about engaging kids with history in a fun and stimulating way. It seeks to move away from a happily fading stereotypical image of museums being a bit 'Victorian' and fusty.

The Museum has been given funding through the Project to increase interaction with schools, particularly those in areas of deprivation. It's fantastic that over the first two years of the programme the Museum has engaged with thousands of school children and has increased the number of schools visiting by more than 100%, with overall visitor numbers also hugely increased.

Perhaps I should divulge a vested interest here; as Maidstone's MP, as Tourism Minister and as President of the Board of Trustees for Maidstone Museums' Foundation, I am unashamedly proud to be banging the drum for this fab local attraction.

Indeed it was the drums - Japanese in fact - that provided the highlight of the day's entertainment. A cross between martial arts and music, it was fascinating to learn about this ancient art form and tremendous fun to have a go on the drums with the children.

The Japanese Taiko drums are just one part of an internationally renowned collection of artefacts at Maidstone Museum that need to be seen to be appreciated. A perfect summer holiday day out for all the family – and on our doorstep – check it out!

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