I have read stories about teenagers who’ve dropped out of school and into the world, in order to obtain a real education. They spent their days, not at home behind a desk, but out and about, visiting places of interest such as museums and galleries… seeing the world. And I’ve always thought, “What a wonderful way to get an education!”
But we don’t have any museums and art galleries close to where we live. An education at the museum isn’t an option for us. Or so I thought.
Then last Saturday I made a sudden decision: we were going to Canberra for three days. We were going to sample the galleries and museums of the city. The girls got very excited. They couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait either. On Tuesday morning we were all up early and before 7.30 am we were sailing along the freeway towards our nation’s capital city.
For three days we walked up and down and around buildings stuffed with interesting information. We had a day at Questacon, a hands-on science centre. We touched and pulled and banged and looked and read and thought and listened and absorbed and discussed and walked some more… until we were thoroughly exhausted. The girls even dropped down a 6m slide to experience
After picking herself up from the floor, Gemma-Rose said (in a very loud voice), “It’s a good thing you didn’t try that, Mum. It was very scary. You wouldn’t have liked it.” She was probably right.
On our second day in Canberra, we headed to the National Museum of Australia. This time we read and looked and discussed, and tried not to set off the alarms. We kept forgetting we shouldn’t get too close to the exhibits.
The girls found plenty to tell me about:
“Did you see Jeannie Gunn’s journal, Mum? And her writing desk? That’s where she wrote We of the Never-Never.”
“Did you see St Mary McKillop’s rosary beads and crucifix? It looks like a lot of people have taken bits of her handkerchief as relics.”
“I saw the typewriter Elyne Mitchell used when she wrote the Brumby books.”
“Can you imagine wearing those convict sandals? Do you want to try on this ball and chain?”
“Can you imagine what it would feel like to have your children taken away and never see them again?”
Yes, we left the museum with lots to think about, and it was fascinating seeing actual objects we’d previously only ever read about.
On our final day in Canberra, we visited the National Gallery of Art. By this time our feet were dragging a little as we plodded along yet more corridors. However, everyone was still very excited when we located one of Monet’s water lily paintings as well as one showing his haystacks. We saw a couple of Picassos but we weren’t impressed. (Perhaps we just don’t appreciate good art.)
Then we spotted some giant abstract paintings and Gemma-Rose declared (very loudly) that she could paint some equally as good. (We definitely don’t understand some forms of art. Maybe we should do some reading!)
But we all loved the Australian landscapes painted by such people as McCubbins, Roberts, Streeton and Conder. We definitely want to add images of these artists’ paintings to our jigsaw puzzle maker.
Andy and I watched as the girls absorbed everything on display in the museums.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely to live near all these museums and galleries?”
“The girls would get such a wonderful education if we lived in the city.”
“Do you think we ought to move to Canberra?”
In three days we travelled the world of science and history and geography and art. We covered so much of the N.S.W school curriculum in such a short time. If I was worried about satisfying the homeschooling requirement, I might find this fact very interesting!
We drove home yesterday afternoon. As we left the freeway and headed up through the cutting towards our village, we began to feel
excited. It was lovely to go away but it was even nicer to come home. We pulled up on the driveway of our house, nestled close to the bush, and we realised we don’t really want to move to the city. This is the place we are meant to be.
We are home. We had a wonderful three days away. Our feet are still a bit sore but our heads are now bursting with knowledge. And we want to know even more. We are going to be doing a lot of further research over the next few weeks.
Even though we’ve changed our minds about moving to the city, we’d still like to experience another education at the museum. We want to visit the War Memorial and the Portrait Gallery and Parliament House, and even return to those places we visited only a few days ago. So we are planning another 3 day mini-holiday to the city, whenever we can afford it.
In the meantime, I am exploring the museum and gallery websites which are packed with information about their exhibitions currently on display.
And I am wondering about other museum and gallery websites. Could we visit the Louvre online? Maybe the British Museum?
The British Museum? This reminds me of a book Charlotte is reading: The History of the World in 100 Objects.
A 100 part series by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, exploring world history from two million years ago to the present.
There is a book, podcasts, a website… (I can’t guarantee all podcasts and objects are suitable for children, or in line with a Catholic way of thinking. You may like to preview them before offering them to your children. Or learn alongside them!)
A fascinating education at the British Museum…any museum. When was the last time you visited a museum, online or in real life?