School visits are welcome to The Ruskin, whether you’re visiting us again or for the very first time.

Email us to book/make an enquiry

Our schools' workshops can be arranged for your visit and tailored to primary or secondary schools.

We can provide materials in advance, with suggestions for activities to do before and after your visit with us.

Drawing Workshop

Our Drawing Workshop for schools is based on John Ruskin’s book The Elements of Drawing. It focuses on objects from nature, and all material is provided including drawing pencils and an exciting variety of natural material such as flowers, leaves, shells, bones and feathers for children to choose from and draw.

Drawings made by children in one of these workshops were included in our 'Sketching from Nature' exhibition.

All his life, John Ruskin used pencil and ink to draw the world around him. The Museum’s Whitehouse Collection holds many of his sketchbooks, notebooks and beautifully illustrated diaries. Many of the illustrations, particularly those of architecture, became the basis of plates in his many books; others he redrew and completed as watercolours or ink drawings. The earliest drawing in our collection is a map of Italy, drawn by Ruskin when he was around 9 years old, and the latest is his last known watercolour: a view of Seascale (1889), on the Cumbrian Coast, drawn when he was 70.

Ruskin’s fame as an artist meant that many people asked him for drawing lessons. He gave private instruction to a lucky few, including Louise Blandy and Emily Warren, and corresponded with others, but the main way he fulfilled these requests was by publishing The Elements of Drawing in 1857, followed by two further books: The Elements of Perspective (1859) and The Laws of Fésole (1877-8).

Why not find out more about our Ruskin's Flora exhibition in 2011?‌‌

Some wonderful coloured pencil drawings of our Museum plus skulls and flowers from a workshop.

Hydrangea flower drawn in coloured pencil and pen.

Bookmaking Workshop

Our Bookmaking Workshop for schools is inspired by the way John Ruskin’s books were made, despite there being new technology available to him. Following a discussion of the history of bookmaking, children are shown how to make their own simple sewn book with a decorative cover (all materials are provided). There are nineteenth century books to look at including a selection made using the same method, but in different materials like metal and fabric.

In 1450, a man named Johannes Gutenberg found a way to mass-produce individual letters (or ‘type’, which is assembled to create a page of text) and adapted a wine press into a printing press. The first books to be printed were the Bible and other religious texts. Very few people could read at this time, and the use of books was confined to monastic orders and the upper classes of society. Printing and binding methods remained virtually unchanged from then until the nineteenth century.

The improvement of education for adults and children in the first half of this century ensured a growing demand for books and other reading material. Changes in technology had a major impact on how books were made, and how much they cost. With prices dropping and free time increasing, more and more people in Victorian Britain could afford to read.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) was surrounded by books all his life - reading, buying, writing and producing them. He took an active part in the production of his own books and worked closely with his publisher, George Allen. As Ruskin had specific ideas about how he wanted each book to look, he often designed and engraved his own illustrations. All his books were produced in a very traditional way, incorporating his ideas on quality and craftsmanship. Ruskin therefore refused to use the cheaper and quicker new technology that was being developed at the time.

John Ruskin's 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture' and 'Of Queens' Gardens' (designed by George Allen)

Books made in our Bookmaking Workshop spread out, all with different cover designs.