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Explore Native America with the Brenchley Collection

At Maidstone Museum on Saturday 1st June.

To coincide with Canterbury Christ Church University’s Arts Fortnight, the Brenchley Collection organised a family friendly and fun museum event at Maidstone with arts and crafts, museum trails and storytelling sessions.

A great day was had by all who attended! The arts and crafts session titled ‘Make your Own Family Totem Pole’ saw children and their guardians adorn their ‘totem pole’ cardboard tubes in bright and bold coloured paper, feathers and wiggly eyes. Everyone enjoyed learning about the reasons why certain animals are depicted on authentic Native American totem poles in America and Canada. The favourite animals of the day included the Hummingbird who symbolised love, beauty and intelligence and the Bear who is strong and courageous.

Totem Poles on the left made by the Bowles Family – Rebecca, 9, Jennifer, 9, Jack, 8, Katie, 6 and on the right created by Lewis aged 4

The storytelling session was a traditional tribal story called ‘How Raven Stole the Sun’ written by Maria Williams who is a member of the Tlingit tribe. Raven was there to help tell the story of how he released the sun to brighten up the world from inside a bentwood box kept hidden away from everyone by a greedy Chief. Click here to see a real bentwood box in the Brenchley Collection!

At 2pm there was an expert talk given by Dr Sam Hitchmough, Brenchley Collection Project Manager and Programme Director at Canterbury Christ Church University and Samantha Harris, Collections Officer at Maidstone Museum. Those who attended learnt more about the Kent-born 19th Century world explorer and collector Julius Brenchley. Dr Sam Hitchmough presented the context around the history of American society at the time Mr Brenchley travelled North America in the 1850s, highlighting the mystery that surrounds Mr Brenchley’s method of collecting. He also focused on the impact European visitors had on the Native American tribes in North America and Samantha brought along a selection of Native American artefacts that are not currently on museum display.

The event allowed the community of Maidstone to see the work by Canterbury Christ Church University together with Maidstone Museum to digitise onto this website the fantastic Native North American collection donated by Mr Brenchley.

Thanks to all the staff, and Ben, Kathryn and Emma from the Learning Team, at Maidstone Museum for help delivering the successful Brenchley event! Thanks also goes to Samantha Harris for giving a great presentation on Julius Brenchley and bringing along some wonderful artefacts for viewing. Thanks also to Dr Sam Hitchmough and Kirsty Belchem for organising the event, and to Becky, an American Studies student at CCCU, who volunteered on the day.

We hope to spread the story of Julius Brenchley and to make the local community aware of the man who travelled the world and collected the objects that form a vast proportion of Maidstone Museum’s collection today. Explore with Brenchley…

By: brenchleyadmin