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The online catalogue does not include details of all our collections. Contact us for further information on collections not yet featured online.
Get inspired by summer time and the Great British holiday. Below you can find links to themed craft activities and discover some holiday souvenirs of years-gone-by.
Summer in the Collections
Outings and Holidays
Blog – “I do like to be beside the seaside…”
The Art of the Seaside
Design a Kite
Punch and Judy Finger Puppets
CSI: The Staffordshire Hoard | 2011 & 2013Discover more about our CSI event held in 2011 and 2013.
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2015Find out more about our 2015 CSI event
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2017Discover more about our CSI event in 2017.
CSI: The Scientific Legacy of WWI | 2018Discover more about our 2018 event.
CSI: The Staffordshire Hoard | 2011 & 2013
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2015
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2017
CSI: The Scientific Legacy of WWI | 2018
Stoke-on-Trent Young Archaeologists’ Club
PLEASE NOTE – our membership is fully subscribed, but get in touch if your child would like to be put on our waiting list.
We are looking for Volunteer Assistants to join us in running Stoke-on-Trent YAC. Find out more.
Stoke-on-Trent YAC is open to everyone aged 8–16 years. YAC clubs get involved in all sorts of activities, including visiting and investigating archaeological sites and historic places, trying out traditional crafts, taking part in excavations, and lots more.
Stoke-on-Trent YAC is based at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The club usually meets once a month. It is an affiliated club of the YAC network, and is run by staff and volunteers at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which is run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Membership currently costs £24.00 per year and renews each January.
If you’d like to get involved with Stoke-on-Trent YAC, or find out more about how the club is run, get in touch with the team using the details below:
Contact: Joe Perry (Curator of Local History)
Tel: 01782 232539
Email: [email protected]
You can find out more about Stoke-on-Trent YAC, and other branches, on the YAC website.
Stoke Museums launches new Website
Noticed a few changes around here? Stoke-on-Trent Museums has just launched its new and improved website. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Gladstone Pottery Museum each has a new dedicated site in which you can find information about all of our upcoming events, exhibitions and blog stories from behind-the-scenes.
Please take the time to look around and be sure to let us know if you have any comments or questions about the new website.
Curiouser and Curiouser: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again and looking about anxiously, as if it had lost something; it was muttering “The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll have me executed! Where CAN I have dropped them, I wonder?”
Alice guessed in a moment that it was looking for the fan and the pair of white kid gloves, and began hunting about for them, but they were nowhere to be seen. Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice and called out to her in an angry tone “Why, Mary Ann, what ARE you doing out here? Run this moment and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!”
Alice was so shocked that she ran off at once in the direction it pointed to. After a few minutes she came to another room, this time it was filled with fans, pocket watches, and gloves of all varieties. “How queer it seems,” Alice said to herself, “to be running errands for a rabbit! I suppose Dinah’ll be sending me on messages next!”. Alice scooped up a pair of gloves and a fan and was about to leave when she noticed a bottle. She was thirsty from all the running! There was no label, just the words `DRINK ME,’ but nevertheless she uncorked it and put it to her lips. “I know SOMETHING interesting is sure to happen” she said to herself.
And it did, much sooner than she had expected: before she had drunk half the bottle, she found herself becoming so tall she almost touched the roof. Alice could see lots of tiny rooms filled with all kinds of exquisite things, before she could begin inspecting any one room in detail, she heard a voice.
“Mary Ann! Mary Ann!” said the voice. “Fetch me my gloves this moment!” the rabbit came bounding round the corner and stopped in front of the now gigantic Alice. He staggered back and yelled “Pat! Pat! Where are you?” And then a voice she had never heard before, “Sure then I’m here!” and Pat skidded round another corner into the room and ran to join the rabbit. They were discussing the best way to get Alice down, for her head was now tilted to the side so she would not bump it on the ceiling and her arm had gone through a window-pane upstairs and her foot was stuck in a foyer doorway. “I wonder what they’ll do! I don’t want to stay like this any longer!”.
Her question was answered when she felt something touch her foot, Alice was ticklish. She squirmed and felt her foot loosen, the thing touched her foot again and she was able to squirm just enough to pull it out. When she drew back her foot a lizard stepped into the foyer, Alice had not expected this and jumped with such force that she kicked Bill up the stairs.
As Bill tumbled back down, Alice remembered the bottle in her pocket, maybe this one would make her small again! It began to work almost immediately, and Alice summoned all her effort to get into a room on the top floor before she was stranded downstairs. Finally, back to normal size she looked behind her at the bottom floor where the rabbit and Pat were surrounding the poor little Lizard, Bill.
They started to yell at Alice, shocked she backed away, turning to see the room behind her. It was then she realized that she was still shrinking, when she had finally stopped the room was like a jungle with all the animals and scenery that spanned the space. There was a large mushroom growing near her, about the same height as herself; and when she had looked under it, and on both sides of it, and behind it, it occurred to her that she might as well look and see what was on the top of it. She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar, that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.
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Chapter 4 Featured Objects:
One of the jurors had a pencil that squeaked. This of course, Alice could not stand, and she went round the court and got behind him, and very soon found an opportunity of taking it away. She did it so quickly that the poor little juror (it was Bill, the Lizard) could not make out at all what had become of it; so, after hunting all about for it, he was obliged to write with one finger for the rest of the day; and this was of very little use, as it left no mark on the slate.
Between being kicked out of a chimney and having his squeaky pencil nabbed, poor Bill doesn’t have a very good time during Alice’s visit to Wonderland.
The lizard on display here is an exotic species – the Asian Water Monitor can be found across south east Asia, from India to Indonesia. Ours is an average size, but they can occasionally grow to around 2m in length. They mostly inhabit wetlands, swamps and mangroves, but have also adapted to the presence of humans and have been found in canals and abandoned mining pits.
Though not a threatened species globally, it is protected under conservation laws in many countries, which should hopefully discourage people from kicking them up chimneys.
One of the most well-known of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland is the encounter with the ‘Drink Me’ bottle. Finding herself too big for a small doorway, Alice drinks the potion and shrinks to the perfect size to enter. But not before she thoroughly inspects the bottle:
It was all very well to say `Drink me,’ but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. `No, I’ll look first,’ she said, `and see whether it’s marked “poison” or not’; for she had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things … if you drink much from a bottle marked `poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked `poison,’ so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.
Eagled-eyed visitors might recognise this distinctive bottle, with its heart-shaped stopper, as it is usually on display in the Chemists Shop in our Local History gallery. It was probably intended to hold perfumes, or similar products, made by local chemists and pharmacists.
Chapter 4 Blogs, games and activities:
Curiouser and Curiouser: The Caucus-Race
“But what IS a Caucus-race, exactly?” asked Alice.
“Well, I think the best way to explain what a Caucus-race is, is to have a Caucus-race!” said the Dodo, already marking out a racecourse in a sort of circle. “The exact shape doesn’t matter,” it said as all the other creatures were placed here and there along the course. There was no: ‘ready, set, go!’. Instead, they ran whenever they liked, and left off when they liked, so it was not very easy to know when the race was over.
However, after running for half an hour or so, when everyone was dry again, the Dodo called out: “The race is over!” and all the creatures crowded around it, panting and asking: “But who has won?”
The Dodo could not answer this question without a great deal of thought. It sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead, while the rest waited in silence.
“EVERYBODY has won!” at last the dodo said, “and all must have prizes!”
Prizes?! All Alice could think to do was put a hand into her pocket, pull out a box of comfits, and began handing them out. There was one each for everyone, except for Alice herself.
“But she must have a prize herself, you know!” said the Mouse.
“Of course,” the Dodo replied, very gravely indeed. “What else have you got in your pocket?”
“Only a thimble,” said Alice, sadly.
“Hand it to me,” said the Dodo. They all crowded around her once more, while the Dodo presented the thimble. “We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble.”
Alice thought the whole thing to be very absurd; and being unable to conjure any words, she simply bowed and took the thimble. The next thing was to eat the comfits. This caused some noise and confusion, with the large birds complaining that they could not taste theirs, while the small ones choked and had to be patted on the back. However, once it was over at long last, they all sat down again in a ring, begging the Mouse to tell them something more…
“You promised to tell me your history,” Alice enquired, “you know, why it is you hate C and D?”
The mouse, clearing his throat, began to talk of all sorts of non-sensical things. Alice soon found her thoughts drifting away, thinking instead of Dinah, which lead her to say aloud, to nobody in particular: “I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!”
“And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?” said the Lory.
“Dinah’s our cat!” Alice replied eagerly, excited to talk about her pet. “And she’s so good at catching mice you can’t think! And oh, if you could see her after the birds! Why, she’ll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!”
Alice’s words caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds hurried off at once. The old Magpie began wrapping itself up, while a Canary pulled its children away to bed. One after another the creatures left and Alice was alone. Here she began to cry again, for she felt very lonely and low-spirited. After a while, however, she heard a familiar pattering of footsteps in the distance. Eagerly, she looked up…
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Chapter 3 Featured Objects:
When Alice cries a large pool of tears, she falls into the water along with birds, and other animals. Alice leads them to shore but soon upsets the party by fondly recalling the activities of her family cat.
Dinah’s our cat. And she’s such a capital one for catching mice you can’t think! And oh, I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she’ll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!
This speech caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds hurried off at once … a Canary called out in a trembling voice to its children, “Come away, my dears! It’s high time you were all in bed!” On various pretexts they all moved off, and Alice was soon left alone.
The real danger to the canaries used in this cage came not from cats, but from dangerous underground gases. Before electronic sensors where introduced, miners would carry a canary in a small cage. The birds were particularly sensitive to toxic gases such as carbon monoxide which is colourless, odourless and tasteless. Any sign of distress from the canary was a clear sign that the conditions were unsafe and that miners should be evacuated.
Chapter 3 Blogs, games and activities:
Curiouser and Curiouser: The Pool of Tears
Walking down the hall, led by even more paintings, Alice began to feel hungry. She reached into her pocket, ignoring the signs of ‘NO FOOD OR DRINK’ scattered along the walls, and hastily stuffed the small cake into her mouth. After a time she heard a little pattering of feet in the distance and turned to see what was coming. It was the White Rabbit, splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other, muttering under his breath as he went. “Oh! The Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! Won’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!”
When the Rabbit came near enough, Alice decided to ask for his help. “If you please, sir–” The Rabbit jumped violently, dropped the gloves and the fan, and scurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go.
Alice took up the fan and gloves, the former of which came in very handy, as the hall was very hot, so she kept fanning herself. It was very rude of the Rabbit to run away! Before she could continue her train of thought, Alice realised the walls were starting to become smaller. Looking down, she also noticed that the fan in her hand was becoming smaller too. Or maybe she was getting bigger? The thought of which upset her. Dinah would never let her pick her up like this! Alice began to cry, not noticing the pool of tears forming around her feet – nor did Alice notice that with every tear shed, she was beginning to get smaller and smaller, until all at once, she was small enough to be swept up by the river of tears and carried down the hall.
A little further downstream, Alice was trying to gain an idea of where she was, only to spot a mouse. Alice called out to him: “Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here.” Alice thought perhaps he was a French mouse, though the only phrase she knew in french was “ou est ma chatte?” the mouse leapt out of the water with fright and Alice realised her mistake as he took off swimming.
“Mouse, dear! Come back! And we won’t talk about cats nor dogs if you don’t like them!”
The mouse thought for a second and replied, “Let us get to the shore, and then I’ll tell you my history, and you’ll understand why I hate cats and dogs.”
Along the way, they gathered many other animals that had been caught in the stream of Alice’s tears. There was a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other creatures.
“Curiouser and curiouser!” exclaimed Alice as they all climbed out of the river. The Mouse, who seemed to be a person of authority among them, called out:
“Sit down, all of you, and listen to me!”
They all sat down at once, in a large ring, with the Mouse in the middle. But everybody was awfully wet and not at all ready for a story. It was decided they would have a Caucus race to get themselves dry.
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Chapter 2 Featured Objects:
J. Duvelleroy, London
white satin with wooden sticks
… The Rabbit started violently, dropped the white kid gloves and the fan, and skurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go. Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: `Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day!
The history of the fan stretches back at least 3,000 years. The folding type of fan dropped by the White Rabbit was originally developed in China and Japan. From the 17th century onwards, folding fans were exported in large numbers to Europe, where they became an important fashion accessory. Often highly decorative and made of silk, lace, feathers or wood, fans followed the fashion trends of the day. Painting and decorating your own fan was very popular in the late 19th century and plain white fans such as this example were sold by famous firms such as Duvelleroy for this purpose
Chapter 1 Blogs, games and activities:
Walking on Water – Potty Science Club
Hello and welcome to The Potty Science Club. Here we’ll be experimenting using equipment and items you can find in your own home. All our experiments will be safe and simple and reflect an item or exhibit held in the Museum’s collections. So follow along with us and give it a go to become a Potty Scientist.
Today’s experiment looks at the question:
‘Why can some insects such as Mosquitoes and Pondskaters actually walk and live on the surface of water?’
What is it that enables these insects to do this? There’s a combination of factors –
- The insect’s minuscule weight
- water repellent hairs on their feet
- the structure of their feet
- plus the surface tension of the water
These all combine to allow insects like pondskaters to walk on water. Today’s experiment will look at one of these factors – surface tension. To demonstrate this at home you will need the following items:
- A pencil
- A paperclip
- A small piece of kitchen tissue roll
- A plastic tub or container to hold water
- A towel
First, carefully pour some water into your container and let it settle for a moment. Now pick up the paperclip and try to float it on the surface of the water.
It sinks of course. This is because the paperclip breaks the surface tension of the water,
Let’s try again!
This time carefully float the piece of kitchen tissue on the water and then gently place the paperclip onto the middle of the floating paper. You then be able to use the pencil to push the paper down away from the paperclip. If you do this properly the paperclip will float on the surface of the water. This is because the paperclip did not break the surface tension of the water this time.
I have made a short video of my attempt so you can see how it works!
So how does surface tension work? Water molecules are more attracted to each other than to other materials creating a force to hold them together. This what we call surface tension.
Surface tension can also be seen if you overfill a glass – can you see the surface of the water bulging slightly above the top of the glass? This bulge of water is held in place by surface tension.
So have a go at floating a paperclip yourself and be amazed at the magic of nature.
Hope you’ve had a Potty time – subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Facebook and keep an eye on our website blog for future episodes and join us next time for another experiment.
By Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer
Curiouser and Curiouser: Down the Rabbit Hole
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversation?”
She was roused from her sleepy contemplation when a white rabbit bounded from a hedge, and as it flashed past her, she could have sworn she had heard it say `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’. She shook her head as if to knock the silly thought away, but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT- POCKET, and looked at it, before hurrying on, Alice started to her feet, for it crossed her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it. Burning with curiosity, she ran across the field, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. Without a thought she jumped in after it.
Either the hole was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well and noticed that they were filled with watercolour paintings. There were birds and trees, buildings and flowers. There were flowers Alice had never seen, paintings of some so realistic Alice felt she could build a chain from the daisies on the page. There was even a cat that reminded her of Dinah.
Without warning the fall was over, but Alice was unhurt and seeing the rabbit round the corner ahead she hurried along after him; and turning the corner she let out a gasp. The hall she had stepped into was covered in yet more paintings; faces stared back at her from every wall. Women more beautiful than she had ever seen, lovers embracing and picnics in the park.
Alice passed by a painting of a small girl that looked a lot like her, she thought, and stopped to investigate it. The girl had on a white dress with a blue bow, her yellow hair hung down around her face, upon which was an expression Alice couldn’t quite decipher. Behind her head were more painted flowers, delicate little stars of yellow and white.
To the side of this painting was a small glass table upon which lay three objects; a key, a glass bottle bearing the words Drink me and a small glass box labelled Eat me. Alice placed the items in her pocket deciding she may need them later and continued down the hall, noting the intricate paintings as she went. At the very end of the hall was a tiny door and Alice thought of the key in her pocket, pinching the key between her fingers she fiddled with the tiny lock until the door sprang open, she peeked inside and saw a garden unlike anything she had seen. She would never fit through this door but was sure she could see something on the opposite side. She had to find it!
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Chapter 1 Featured Objects:
The first creature Alice encounters in Wonderland is a very well-dressed White Rabbit…
… but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT- POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it…
Pocket watches have been a fashionable accessory since their invention in the 16th century, though early pocket watches were in fact worn as pendants on a chain. King Charles II is thought to have popularised the men’s fashion of wearing a watch in a pocket when he introduced the waistcoat to male court dress in 1675. Special pockets were made in the waistcoat to accommodate the pocket watch . By the 19th century, pocket watches were often secured by an ‘Albert’ watch chain – named after Prince Albert (1819-1861), who was consort to Queen Victoria (1837-1901). On one end of the chain is a small swivel clasp that attaches to a pocket watch. The swivel clasp allows the wearer to rotate the watch and keep the chain from twisting. At the other end of the chain is a T-shaped bar which loops through a buttonhole in the waistcoat for security.
William Wise (1847–1889)
oil on board
The themes of childhood and growing up are explored through the character of Alice as she experiences many physical changes during her adventures in Wonderland.
`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was!
But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, THAT’S the great puzzle!’ And she began thinking over all the children she knew that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.
These themes played a key part in the development of what is sometimes called the ‘Cult of Childhood’ in the 19th century, with the idea of childhood being not only celebrated in literature, but also in the arts. William Wise was a designer at Minton’s China works and his painting of a young girl is a good example of this. He has painted white lilies in the background to symbolize the innocence and the fleeting nature of childhood.
Chapter 1 Blogs, games and activities:
Curiouser and Curiouser!
It’s a story familiar to almost everyone, a magical adventure which has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ has entertained children and adults alike for over 150 years. Written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen-name Lewis Carroll, the story follows little Alice as she tumbles down a rabbit hole in chase of the very well-dressed White Rabbit. In Wonderland she faces confusing riddles and curious characters as she makes her way to the Queen’s rose garden to play croquet.
Charles Dodgson originally conjured the story to entertain the real-life Alice Liddell and her sisters while on a rowing trip in 1862, three years before the final book was published. The book was illustrated by John Tenniel.
This exhibition brings the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to life through objects from across our collections. Try not to lose your head…
Discover the unique collections of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery through the lens of the classic story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This family-friendly exhibition can be found in the museum’s Sculpture Court on the Lower Ground Floor. Entry is free.
The strange scenes discovered by Alice are recreated using real museum treasures, from the cast of the Caucus-Race to the giant shell of a mock-turtle. You can even join in with the Queen’s game of croquet.
You can also follow Alice’s Adventures through a Museum Wonderland online- explore each chapter to play games, examine hidden objects and see the museum as you never have before.
Discover the objects on display and the stories behind them.
Browse the Collections
The Secrets of Playing Cards
Mad March Hares
Discover and Play
Stories from behind-the-scenes, games to play, things to make and more.