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We strongly recommend that if you have booked a school visit to Milestones you take the opportunity to make a free familiarisation visit to the museum to enable you to acquaint yourself with the layout of the building and to complete your risk assessment so your school has a successful visit.

These can be made Tuesday – Sunday during normal opening hours – contact us at to arrange complimentary admission before arriving.

Pre-visit discussion ideas

  • What is a museum?
  • What do your pupils think a museum is?
  • What kinds of things have they seen in museums?
  • How were they displayed?

Museums do an important job - they collect, care for and explain objects - often from the past - for people. You can visit a museum and enjoy finding out about the past.

Different museums use different ways of helping you find out about the past - some have information written on walls, some have information written in gallery files, some have audio guides so you can listen to information, some have people in the museum who can answer questions, some have people who take you around the museum and tell you things.

Some museums display their collections on shelves in glass cupboards or cases. Some have small fences or ropes around their collections. Some have objects you can walk around. Milestones has all of these - our collections are in the streets, in shop windows and in glass cases.

Everything in a museum is precious and requires care. Many museums are not able to have their collections on open display. It's very tempting to touch objects in museums - especially if it's something you've never seen before. No matter how clean our hands are, they always have natural oils on them to keep our skin healthy - but these oils can sometimes damage things in museums. This is why we are unable to touch a lot of things in museums. The people who care for them usually wear special white gloves if they need to touch them.

Historic Evidence

There are lots of clues from the past - historic evidence - that can help us find out about the past.

Think about yourself and your past. How could you find out what kind of baby you were? What did you like to eat? What was your first word? What did your family dress you in? Did you cry a lot in the night? What time were you born? Do you have a middle name?

Some of the answers to these questions can come from people's memories of you, some from photographs, some from documents - these are all types of evidence from the past.


Many of the programmes at Milestones involve handling/touching objects from the museum's collections. The objects in our collections are usually things that have been donated to us by members of the public, or left to us when someone has died. Sometimes we buy objects to add to our collections. Some of the objects we have are old, some of them are quite new - but they are all part of the museum's collections, which means they are all of equal value to us.

If you are handling an object from our collections, someone will have asked everyone in your group (adults and pupils) to remember our handling rules:

  1. only pick up one object at a time
  2. use both hands with each object

You can practise careful handling in the classroom quite easily. Take a new sheet of tissue paper and pass it around the classroom, so each pupil holds it in order to pass it to the next. When it reaches you again, check it carefully - it should have no damage!


Discuss senses and which are used when we visit somewhere new.

At Milestones you can use several senses to find out about the past:

  • You can use your eyes to see streets and objects from our collections
  • You can use your ears to hear sounds in the streets and listen to demonstrations
  • You can use your voice to ask questions
  • You can touch buildings to feel if they are similar to buildings today or not
  • You can touch some of the objects in our collection

People in museums

There are lots of people who work in museums doing all different types of jobs to help people like you find out about the past. Different museums have slightly different people and jobs in them. Discuss the different jobs you think need to be done in a museum.

At Milestones there are:

  • Interpreters - these people wear costume from the past for most of the day and a Hampshire Cultural Trust T-shirt for the rest of the day. They work in the museum's displays. Sometimes they are in the streets ready to help visitors by answering questions. Sometimes they give talks or demonstrations at a particular time for all visitors. Sometimes they lead a programme for a school group or a family, helping them learn about the past using the museum's collections.
  • Conservators - these people have special skills in looking after the objects in the museum. They are the people who clean those objects which need special cleaning. They keep an eye on how all the objects are and help put together new displays in the museum.
  • Visitor Services Team - these are the people who work on our Reception answering the telephone and welcoming people to Milestones, in our shop and helping people use our audio guides.
  • Caretakers - these are the people who clean the building and help us to keep it safe for visitors. They make sure rooms are ready for meetings and help organise special events.
  • Administration - this team help people arrange to bring groups to the museum - like schools. They look after all the paperwork in the museum like bills.
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