Siblings of children supported by East Anglia Children’s Hospices visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Museum of Zoology to explore collections, create art, have fun and take time for themselves. Find out what they got up to…

Thanks to support from charity Children and the Arts’ Start Hospice programme, the Fitzwilliam Museum has partnered with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) for the last 5 years. This partnership allowed us to develop therapeutic arts experiences outside of the hospice environment, and create happy memories for families with multiple complex needs and children with life-threatening conditions. A vital part of this has been offering creative experiences for the siblings in these families. This year, for the first time, the programme has begun to reach across the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM), introducing participants to the rich variety of our collections. With the original funded project at an end, this important relationship has become embedded in our plans for the coming 4 years, a lasting partnership worth celebrating.  The partnership continues to evolve learning from success and challenges, in order to develop the best possible experiences and training into the future.

In April 2018, we ran two days for EACH siblings, with the aim of providing sibling support socially through fun, practical and therapeutic activities. These days provide EACH siblings with the opportunity to meet other ‘sibs’ and to have time and attention for themselves. In previous years we had lower numbers of teenage attendees, so the emphasis this year was to include a digital element and the introduction of the Discover Arts Award qualification responding to suggestions by young people from EACH.


Day 1

On the 4th April a group of eight young people and six EACH staff visited the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) and the newly-opened Museum of Zoology to explore Pacific collections. The group worked across art forms to explore the collections. They were inspired to create drawings, woven artworks, necklaces, and wrote reviews to successfully achieve Discover Arts Awards.

Inspiration from the collections at MAA

For many their highlight was the exciting opportunity to handle objects going into the new displays at MAA, including shark teeth spears, a pea and stick navigational map, and a newly-accessioned ghost net in the shape of a turtle. The objects from MAA crossed over nicely with their visit in afternoon to the Museum of Zoology that focused on endangered marine mammals from the same areas.

MAA’s ghost net in the shape of a turtle

“The best thing about today was the new zoology museum, as I haven’t been there for years.”

Day 2

On the 11th April a group of eight young people and five EACH staff visited the Fitzwilliam Museum for a day of activities exploring the theme of colour. The group started by playing games and explored the museum with a trail to learn about colour theory, before handling pigments, and getting involved in digital making activities creating their own digital ‘scribble bots’.

Learning about colour theory

Two of the highlights from this day for the young people were the scribble bots and Pigment trail. The digitally-made bots gave the children a chance to explore motors, weights/angles and problem solving to make the bots move differently. The group liked the trail and colour bingo as it allowed them to explore the museum semi-independently in groups.

A scribble bot
Exploring colour

All the young people really enjoyed their days at the museums, and the mixed aged groups interacted well with each other.  So far eight of the young people have returned and successfully passed their Discover Arts Award, with many interested in continuing to complete the Explore Arts Award.

Future plans

We found that working with the group to form ideas for workshops prior to visits helped them to feel they belong in the museum, and form connections with the collections. Looking forward we are excited to be welcoming the siblings and their families back in August, for EACH Family Day, as part of Family Art Week (Tue 31st – Friday 3rd August).  Due to the success of these days I can’t wait to start planning with the group, to inform activities and workshops.

Discover Arts Awards complete!

If you would like to learn more about the Fitzwilliam Museum’s partnership and future projects with EACH please contact Holly Morrison on Or for further information on how East Anglia Children’s Hospice support families and young people please visit their website.