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Figure of doll with painted white face and long wide dress. The doll is holding a small pot on a stick and the doll is stood on a black box with gold detailing.

The Mindful Museum of Me

An extra special warm hello from the Horniman Museum and Gardens, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Recovery College and Ldn Dares Drama Co. Relax and explore this mindful resource, The Mindful Museum of Me.

During these uncharted times there can be pressure to ‘do things’. Not everyone has the privilege of turning a pandemic into something fun or productive. There may well be days when activity is the last thing you want, and that’s totally fine. But when the mood takes you, we’re here for you and this activity is to help turn your home into a new space for you, a sanctuary and even a surprising space.

Did you know your home is also a museum? Everyday objects can show the practical ways you live your life, your likes and interests, and your memories. Objects can hold great meaning. The Horniman is filled with objects that tell us how people all over the world live their lives. If a curator from the distant future time-travelled to your home and studied the objects, they could paint a good picture of who you are and how you live your life.

So, it’s a good time to relax, find a quiet moment and explore ‘The Mindful Museum of Me’. Here is your guided tour …

Step 1: Setting the scene

This is all about clearing your mind and focussing on your own mindfulness

  • Turn off the news, the TV and radio, and put your phone aside – this is your time.
  • Get dressed mindfully – pick an outfit that makes you feel good and think about every detail of the materials and textures as you’re getting dressed.
  • Make a mindful breakfast – really think about the presentation of the food, and the flavours and textures as you eat slowly. Focus completely on the food in front of you.
  • Make yourself a drink, find a comfortable place to sit and take a few deep breaths while looking around the space around you.
  •  Grab a piece of paper and pen, set a time for one minute and scribble, doodle or draw anything that comes to mind. Hold up your piece of paper, you have the first object for your museum. Give it a name, like ‘Quarantine Scribbles by…’.
  • Get settled in and we’re ready to go!

Step 2: Become a tour guide

It’s time to see this very familiar space with fresh eyes.

  • Stand up, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Think about your whole body from your head right down to your toes. Feel your feet on the floor and be present in the space you’re about to explore. When you open your eyes you will be the Tour Guide of this new ‘Museum of Me’.
  • Walk around your home really slowly and carefully. Take in each wall, floor, ceiling and piece of furniture. Pick a spot you rarely stand in, stop and look at the room from this new angle.

If you were working as a Tour Guide, what would you pick out to tell people about? What story would that object tell?

Step 3: Explore the Objects

  • Find your comfy spot again and sit down. Close your eyes and point in any direction.
  • Open your eyes and ask yourself about what you see in front of you – for example: I see a vase, I notice it reflects the light against the wall, I wonder what times of day this happens and the different reflections it makes.
  • Try this a few times to get connected to objects in the room.
  • When you find an object that particularly interests you, pick it up and hold it in your hands. We’re going to discover more about this object, just like a curator would. Some questions you could ask yourself are to the right. →. If you find out something you really like, write it down on a label for the object.
  • Repeat this a few times and start to gather these key objects together. Is there anything these objects have in common?

This is a museum of you. What would you call it? You could make a banner to advertise your museum.

Step 4: Missing something?

Is there anything you don’t already have, that you want to add to this collection?

  • You could find inspiration from the Horniman collections.
  •  Have a look through what we have and recreate your favourite pieces with a little arts and crafts magic! How about a mask made of papier-mâché, a musical instrument using kitchen equipment, or a sketch of one of the animals?
  • Let’s give your museum the glitz and glam it deserves – how about making some bunting out of old magazines for the grand opening?

Step 5: Now enjoy your museum!

  • Close your eyes and sit comfortably. Put on some calming music, breathing in and out to a count of two. Squeeze your muscles for five seconds and then relax (and repeat).
  • Now look around at your museum and the space you’ve discovered anew. Admire your handiwork. This is YOU.
  • If you feel inspired by your own museum collection, there are plenty more surprising stories and fun things to learn about the Horniman’s objects on our website. Challenge yourself to learn something new.

Step 6: Share your museum

  • Call or text your friends and family with a happy memory that came up during the exercise.
  •  Photograph your ‘Museum of Me’ and send it to us, or you could tweet us @HornimanMuseum

Feeling extra daring?

Push yourself out of your comfort zone with these challenges

Dance like no one’s watching
Because they’re not! Pull the curtains, turn on your favourite upbeat music and DANCE!

Put pen to paper
Write that novel! Or a poem, script, or short story. Setting yourself short challenges, like completing just a paragraph at a time, can help. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • Your ‘Museum of Me’ comes to life.
  • Choose one of your objects and use this line to start: ‘Having looked closer at the object they passed everyday they realised…’
  • Write from the object’s point of view. How does your ‘fork’ experience the world’? Can this make a great poem?
  • Try writing about an object that catches your eye from the Horniman collections.

Re-decorate
And we don’t mean DIY!

  • Can your bathroom become a spaceship? Or your living room a jungle? What world does your ‘Museum of Me’ reside in? Think big!
  • Perhaps build a den to enjoy your museum from, and house your new collection!

Body Image
Human beings experience objects through their bodies, whether it’s the physical sensation of using something, or transforming the body with clothing and decoration.

The Horniman has many objects that celebrate the human body. While sometimes it’s easy to feel self-doubt, let’s celebrate our amazing bodies like countless humans have before us!

What are your favourite things about your body and why?
How could you represent them in your ‘Museum of Me’?

We asked Dare’s Ursula Joy to name three things she loves about hers:

  • ‘My tummy, I enjoy the squishiness feel of it and proudly enjoying my favourite foods.’
  • ‘My blue eyes, as they remind me of my father.’
  •  ‘My fingers and fingernails. I enjoy painting the nails lots of different colours and wearing big rings. I recently cut my finger and watching it recover reminds me of my body’s incredible ability to heal itself.’

Dare to dress up
Staying in is the new going out, so why not dress up at home?

  • You could don your most fabulous or wildest outfit. What can you create? Can cardboard, material and rubber gloves make a costume? Do you have a frock hidden away at the back of your wardrobe that you haven’t had the opportunity to wear in a while? Now’s the time.
  •  If you feel like it, share a picture of you in your outfit while doing the household chores, and be part of the global movement #DressUpBinsOut.

Thanks for joining in

We hope you enjoyed creating The Mindful Museum of Me.

This activity was inspired by students of SLaM Recovery College who created the Wellbeing Wander with us last year. We’ve included some of their activities to try at home, and you can find more about their work on the Horniman website.

Have a look at our YouTube channel to see the work that other groups and individuals have done on exploring objects.
And on our social media channels you can find other fun activities to take part in from your home – including arts and crafts using supplies you can find around the house.

Share with us your homemade museums if you like.

Look after yourselves