Polka40 Blog: Making History Come Alive

June 27, 2019

Welcome back to our Polka40 blog, a series offering unique insight into the process behind the creation of our magical family exhibition at Morden Hall Park. Written by Polka40 volunteer, Paul Wrench. 


We’ve been working round the clock to deliver Polka’s upcoming exhibition, and one of the most thrilling jobs has been to delve into our collection containing props, costumes and other paraphernalia from Polka’s 40 year history.

To seek out inspiration on how to make Polka’s history as interactive, accessible and exciting as possible, we first visited the Discover Children’s Story Centre, the V&A Museum of Childhood and the National Maritime Museum. Needless to say, we came up with many ideas and had great fun!

Three trips during April and May led us to discover the treasures hidden in the Polka storage space in Mitcham. We learned how to select the most interesting and representative artefacts and how best to exhibit them. Aspects such as how the objects best display Polka’s message and ethos; how we can best involve children’s senses, inquiries and learning styles into displaying these objects; how robust or delicate the objects are for hands-on activities; and what themes are evolving from our choice of objects; all of these issues have provoked fascinating discussions and decisions among our staff and volunteers.

We also paid great attention to the school curriculum, as we want our event to be fun, interactive and memorable, all the while being educational and rich in relevant content. As such, extensive research has been done into the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 and 2, and activities in the exhibition have been developed based on these findings.

After countless meetings working on the exhibition concept and on some fabulous exhibition stations that will make Polka’s history come to life, we now have the pleasure of working with terrific Exhibition Designer Katie Lias on transforming our ideas into reality in a playful, beautiful way.

Wow, what a fantastic ride this whole process has been!

With so much work and thought from a dedicated team, we can see that the exhibition itself is about to become an integral part of Polka Theatre’s colourful and thrilling history. We can’t wait to share it with you all!


Paul Wrench


Feeling inspired? Make sure you check out our amazing workshops at Morden Hall Park this summer – there’s something for everyone!