Museum Mannequins: An everyday Adventure in Museum Education

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of museum mannequins. Long term readers of this blog will be familiar with my fondness for these plastic people, as would anyone who follows my Instagram feed. Mannequins can be a useful tool for interpretation in museums, especially when it comes to demonstrating how costumes would have looked on a person.

Recently, I’ve seen them used as a tool by the Learning Team at Towner.
If you follow @TownerLearning you might have seen this tweet as we welcomed a few new members to the team.

These mannequins were used by one of our groups, Pathways, as part of a fashion based project for their Arts Award. Our new team members needed a bit of sprucing up, to look as fierce as possible to match the designs the group had for them.

And so, the mannequins fulfilled their destiny.
At the end of the academic year, the college we work with on Pathways wanted to display the mannequins on their campus. This is where things get interesting and lead to some of the oddest telephone calls I’ve ever had to make…
Firstly, arranging a taxi for plastic people. In theory, this sounds like a simple task, and to be honest, it wasn’t too taxing. I could almost hear the person on the other end of the line wrap their head arounf what I was asking…
Things did get a bit uncomfortable when I had to check if the mannequins could be broken down to fit. They looked too much like people. As I laid them down to see if the legs can be removed from the torso I realised just how much like a crazed killer I looked. “It’s fine – they’re just mannequins!” I wanted to say whenever I felt someone was looking at me for just a beat or two too long.
The taxi driver’s face was a treat when he pulled up. Was this what he was expecting when he booked the fare?
And so, off they went. And that was all, or so I thought.


This was perhaps the oddest phone call I am ever likely to make in my life – “Excuse me, you might remember me, I rang up earlier about the mannequins?”
Cue recognition from the person on the other end.
“I think your driver might have an arm in the back of his taxi – any chance he could check?”
It’s not every day you have to ask someone to check for missing body parts.

So, yes, #MuseumMannequins – who knew they had the power to make life that much stranger, even when they’re gone?

If you have used mannequins in your museum and you have a fun story about them, please leave a comment below!

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