Explorers Club great discovery

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An initiative to get more children through the doors of the South Canterbury Museum is proving a hit, with 1000 youngsters now belonging to the Explorers Club.
The club, established in 2008 by the late Davina Davis, has been developed over the years with the aim of giving children a chance to take part for free in various activities while learning about topics and exhibitions on display in the museum.
Museum director Philip Howe said the concept had been a great success, bringing not just children through the doors, but entire families.
In its earlier days, membership sat at about 450.
‘‘Kids join it, but turn into teenagers [and leave]. We were keen to do something to make it larger and make it more appealing to kids,’’ he said.
‘‘We also wanted to use it as a marketing tool to keep families informed with what was happening at the museum and to encourage frequent visitation and generally grow interest and inheritage.’’
Museum curator of social history Chris Rapley and curator of documentary history Tony Rippin combined their ideas to further develop the concept into what it is today.
That was when a badge collection and passport initiative was born, which allows children to collect stamps and badges for participating.
‘‘It was a joint effort. Chris made the discovery and I said ‘hey, we could do that’,’’ Mr Rippin said.
Children now have badges lining their lanyards where their passports hang.
‘‘If it adds a little bit of excitement to come to [an] exhibition, what more could you ask?’’ Mr Rippin said.
And the concept was ‘‘very much’’ doing what museum staff wanted it to do, Mr Howe said.
‘‘Kids are loving it [and] parents are particularly grateful. We are seeing a huge interest in what the museum is doing and for kids to come in and take part in activities and explore further.’’
Word of mouth had helped in its success, Mr Howe said.
‘‘Kids come in on school groups and they bring their badges with them and other kids see it and say ‘oh, I want that’.’’