After funding from the Association of Independent Museums and Artswork we are pleased to launch ‘What’s in the Box?’, part of a new outreach programme that allows us to offer school pupils in the local area the use of a museum loans box, including objects, activities and curriculum links.

As part of this programme, we’re offering four loans boxes, ‘Natural History, ‘Trading Textiles’, ‘The Arts Box’ and ‘Safari Stories’. They are available to book now. If you are interested in booking one of these loans boxes, please contact us at

Natural History

If your class is learning about Animals and their Habitats, Adaptation, or Teeth, this loans box is a fantastic learning resource. The loans box contains seven natural history specimens: rhinoceros’ molar tooth, a collection of mounted butterflies, sheep horn, caiman skin, crocodile skin, rabbit skin, a replica chimpanzee skull, and a set of picture cards. Object notes, a guide to handling objects safely, and a Teacher’s Pack with suggested learning activities and resources are also included.

Science Curriculum Links: Living things and their Habitats; Animals and Humans; Evolution and Inheritance.

Trading Textiles

Learn about printing and designing textiles with our Trading Textiles loans box. This loans box contains Kente textiles, Adinkra textiles and Kanga textiles, and traditional adinkra printing stamps. Discover how and why these beautiful textiles were made and the significance of the different colours, patterns, and symbols. The loans box is a perfect starting point for inspiring children to design and print their own textile. Object notes and a Teacher’s Pack with suggested learning activities are included.

This box includes lots of hands-on craft activities. Schools will need to provide some basic resources, such as paints. A resource list will be sent to you in advance of the box so that you have time to acquire your resources. Please note that anything we think you’ll need will be something you already have in school, or something low-cost and easy to source.

Curriculum Links: Art and Design; Design and Technology; PSHE and Citizenship; Global Education.

The Art Box

This box was created from a funded partnership project with Artswork to help schools and museums connect.  This loans box contains four natural history specimens: a leopard skull, an African Forest Elephant tooth, and a Red River Hog skull. The box has four cards, each has information about one object, an artist that could inspire ideas and examples of the children’s artwork. We have kept this box as open as possible to encourage people of any age to discover and create art.  This box includes suggestions for art activities that have been designed by children for other children to learn from. Object notes and a guide to handling objects safely are also included.

Schools will need to provide some basic resources such as paper and drawing materials.

Curriculum Links: Art and Design

Safari Stories

We have kept this box as open as possible to create play and discovery at any age or level.  It is for everyone to have fun making stories about animals from across Africa.   The loans box contains soft toys, smell boxes, animal puzzles, animal sounds and rubbing blocks. We have included information about the animals and how they eat, their travel and their habitats. There are also suggested activities to get you started in your story journey, and how you might use some of the resources in the box for creative play and learning.

Curriculum Links: Science and Investigation; Life Processes & Living Things; Animals


Who is can hire a loans box?

This is a new offer and at the moment, we are only able to lend boxes to primary and secondary school settings within a 15 mile radius of the museum. We are working on alternative activities for home-school and other settings.

Is the loans box COVID-safe?

The loans box scheme has been developed in a COVID-19 safe manner. All boxes are quarantined for 72 hours between schools and will be delivered and collected by a member of Museum staff with appropriate PPE precautions. A risk assessment will be provided to you prior to receiving the loans box to help you with your planning.

How long will we have the box for?

All boxes are loaned to the school for a two-week period (term time only) to allow the maximum benefit of all the activities included. Drop-off and pick-up of boxes will be on a Friday.

How much will it cost?

£50 you pick up and drop off the box at the museum

£75  we drop off and pick up the box at your school (located within a 15 mile radius of the museum)

How big is the box?

We have two sizes of loans box.

Our box for trading Textiles, The Art Box, and Safari Stories has these dimensions: length 687mm x width 528mm x depth 366mm.

Our box for Natural History has these dimensions: length 880mm, width 660mm, depth 483mm

All boxes have wheels, and grab handles.

Talk to our loans box service co-ordinator

You can contact Emily by email at

Emily Anderson

Loans Box Coordinator

Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex House and Gardens

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