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Moonlight Lifter by Parkfield School Skye

One wintery night, a figure disarms the gallery alarms with ease and breezes through the halls ready for her mischief to begin.

This version of the Moonlight Lifter story is reworked by select year 5 and 6 pupils from Parkfield Primary School at the Museum of Somerset Taunton.

Maya, Dylan, Joseph, Louisa and Namu, March 2018.

This digital walk was created through support from The Arts Council England, Rook Lane Arts of Frome and The South West Heritage Trust.

Make your way to the Making Somerset Gallery and then stand beneath the cauldrons. Your key word is the first word written on the large information panel.
Chapter one

The Moonlight Lifter

One slow afternoon when the gallery had emptied of the hustle of school children and young families, one old lady slowly sidled into the room. Her hands strained at three bulging shopping bags as she gazed around the gallery, the attendant glanced up from his paper for a moment to see her and then instantly forgot she was ever there. It was not that she was unusual, far from it, everything about her was normal, her body shape, coat, stance all so ordinary as to be of no interest to anyone.

This was exactly as The Collector had planned, for beneath that bland coat and wired glasses were beady eyes counting camera ports, window ledges, distances from cabinets to doorways, openings, latches and scuffed door patches. She had already spotted three laser triggers, two vault doors (portcullis style to block off any escape routes and trap an intruder) as well as nine pressure pads in the carpet and a dozen other minor locks and clasps. All of this detail was noted with barely a rustle of paper from the attendant, and she walked on down the gallery invisible, noting, watching, preparing.
Chapter two

Now if

Now if you were counting you would know that she stopped exactly six times in that room and each time she placed her heavy shopping bags on the carpet in front of a cabinet or plinth and took stock of the contents. In those few moments every detail was absorbed, from the size and materials of the artefacts, to the position of locks and the worn hinges on the cabinet doors. She saw the voids behind and beneath the plinths, the spaces above and below betraying cavities where tools could be stored for later use. All of this took just moments and she drank it all in.

The attendant dropped his newspaper on his chair with the headline – Curious Counterfeiter Collector Strikes Again – more thefts at prestigious museums across Europe. He then walked down the gallery leaving the old lady alone beneath the cauldrons, this was her moment and when he was out of sight she slipped her hand into one of her bags, grabbed what looked like a potato and threw it up into one of the cauldrons overhead. Deftly she did this again and again until within a minute her bag was quite empty and nearly every cauldron had a seed, each cauldron had something hiding inside.
Chapter three

Fast Forward

Now let's fast forward to the evening, where the moon is bright across the roofs of the town and a slight figure is slipping between shadows if made from nothing more than cloth and air.

The alarms of the gallery had been set hours before and the museum was as secure as a vault, but The Collector deactivated these in a minute, breezing through the space uninhibited making her way directly to the Making Somerset gallery.

She stopped beneath the cauldrons with a sly grin playing across her face, eager to get on with the mischievous task. Before dawn there would be many subtle changes to this museum and its contents, changes that perhaps only the discerning eye would spot.
Chapter four

The Servants are Summoned

‘Now' she said in a tight squeaky voice and tapped a cauldron high up in the ceiling with her extendable walking stick followed by ‘wakey wakey little ones'

Slowly, one at a time little heads emerged from the pots overhead, these were the homunculi. They looked like ugly dolls, perhaps no larger than a two-year-old child but as thin as sticks and with weird dead eyes like cold turnip mash. Their clothes and faces glistened a fungus shade of grey and they gathered around their creator, diligent servants ready and eager, awaiting her command.
Go to the red calving of a face with an incredible red tongue sticking out. The keyword is the 5th word on the red plaque.
Chapter five

The Painted Oak Carving

Then The Collecter turned her attention to an oak carving that was waiting to be taken, staring at her blue, blank eyes. That was sneaky she thought as she spotted an alarm that was in between the oak carving and the Ampullae. As she was looking around the room to think of how to get this precious object out of the cabinet when she spotted the Homunculi throwing thinking putty at each other and then one of them didn't catch it and it flew into one glass cabinet and the glass all started to melt away. Simultaneously the Homuncoli began to "ooooohhhh!" in a worried tone of voice.

A few minutes later,The Collecter thought of what to do and called over one of her nervous minions and shrank him to the size of an old,rusted penny and ordered him to take the wooden carving out of the cabinet and return it to her. As the Homuncoli disappeared into the cabinet he thought and desided to have a little bit of fun. When he was inside the cabinet he jumped around the artefacts doing somersaults like he was at a trampoline park having the best time of his life. Then in a angry, disappointed voice the Collecter shouted at him to get on with the job. Suddenly the Homunculi raised a multicoloured tablet and popped into the artefacts mouth. Almost instantly the painted oak carving shrank and as it shrank it started to blow raspberries.
Eventually he lifted the object out of the cabinet and replaced it with a fake. On the artifact was a card written on it was 'with compliments of the Collecter' hand scribed in Indian and placed in the artefacts mouth. She was now looking for her next prize ...
Go to the bronze cauldron next to the window, your keyword is the last word on the red plaque
Chapter six

A Big Bronze Bowl

The Collecter moved on. She tiptoed over to the bronze cauldron and attached a rope to either end. Next, she opened the window, pulling up the blind and releasing the wind and soon fresh air filled the room. But that wasn't her plan. She threw one of the ropes out the window and let it dangle of the edge. Two of the homonculie grabbed the end of the rope that wasn't dangling outside and put on their suction boots. The Collecter put on her suction boots too and stood on the window ledge. Very slowly they walked over the edge and stuck to the wall only because of the suction boots. After what felt like internity they got to the bottom of the wall and were now in the courtyard. Then they grabbed the fake and walked back up the wall placing it where the original had been.

She left a note in Indian ink,

"With compliments of the Collecter."

She was going to move on but her homonculie were not cooperating-they were having a burping contest. There were two homonculie left but before the finale happened the Collecter called them away. The homonculie burping finale awaits, June 2019.
Go to the Taunton castle cabinet and the keyword is the first word of the red plaque number 5.
Chapter seven

the next element

Now the collector was on to her next element of the gallery. She was not done yet. There was one thing she really wanted to get. The King and queen plate but there was no way she was getting that as it was covered in complete protection. She went on to the next best element in the gallery. The silver spoon. She gently tiptoed over to the cabinet where it was placed.

When she got to the area she started glaring at the cabinet marked Taunton castle. There it was. The silver spoon. She was wondering how she was going to get the spoon out when this little creature named cockroach started crawling up the glass. Then another. Then another. Suddenly many and I mean many of these little creatures starting mobbing the glass. She quickly made a whistle sound and the creatures beady little eyes stared straight into hers.

"Now listen up," she continued " I want you to climb into the cabinet and hoard the silver spoon of its holder and place it into my hands!" The creatures did not move a muscle. "Well,what are you waiting for." Following their order, the cockroaches climbed into the cabinet and hoarded the silver spoon of the holder and out of the cabinet. Now the collector has the silver spoon. She then pulled a replica of a silver spoon out of her bag and made the cockroaches put it in exactly the same spot as the other one.

On to the next artefact!
Go find the wood and metal staffs, the first word on the red plaque is your keyword.
Chapter eight

The stave

As the collector crept up the creeky stairs of the museum, she got closer and closer and closer.It was dark. The night was silent. As she tiptoed down the hallway there was a rattling noise.She froze.Carefully,she took a knife out of her pocket and acted like nothing had just happened. Then she saw it. The stave was glimmering in the moonlight.
Everything was calm as she crouched down and in the distance,as if by magic,she saw her homonculi. She got an evil grin on her face and beckoned her servants over. Her grin got even bigger and bigger as her homonculi started to scramble up the cabinet.She gave them her knife and they neatly sliced a hole on top and beneath the cabinet. The collector grasped a magnet that she had lying in her pocket and passed it to the homonculi. They hung it over the stave and it carefully slid out of it's cabinet. Her goal was achieved. Next, on a piece of paper, hand scribed in Indian ink,'with compliments of the collector.'
Go to 'The Romans depart' exhibit and write the word of the object the Roman women used to groom nits from their hair.
Chapter nine

Well Groomed

The collector walked around 'the Romans depart' exhibit. Under the plausible disguise of an old lady who was simply interested in history, the beady eyes were studying the exhibit carefully, once again taking in every nook and cranny, every little gap and crevice in the sturdy glass case. At once her eyes settled greedily on a plain, broken comb. To the naked eye it would seem valuable, but old and nearly worthless in terms of money.

The only reason why it held a place in this case at all was because it was from Roman times. This thought did enter the devious mind of the collector, but she quickly shook it off. Having studied the glass case for so long, her brain had already thought out a plan. She called the homonoculi, who brought with them a rickety old bucket, holding in it silver, poisonous Mercury. Another group of four homonoculi were entering the room, buckling under the weight of the water.

The collector, using a sharp, deathly claw, pierced the green-blue rubber which held the apex together. With a simple movement downwards, she cut the rubber, leaving a gap about the width of a pencil. It wasn't much, she thought, but it would have to do.

She had made sure to leave the strip of rubber intact below and above the place where the liquid metal would be poured in. Now for the mercury, she thought. She carefully tipped the dense liquid inside the glass case. Slowly it flooded the exhibit and took the objects of their hooks.

When the comb was near enough to be taken, the collecter slowly drained the exhibit of mercury and a very unlucky homonuculi was made to clean the exhibit out. How to dispose of it, I hear you say? Well the collecter had already thought of this, and was ready to sacrifice a homonuculus for the comb. It stood, trembling on the ground, knowing what was coming to him. "Drink" the collector ordered, and with faltering hands, it drank down the dense liquid. Instantly it began to wither, but the collecter turned away.

Using a lengthy, and very thin pair of tweezers, the collector grabbed the comb as it was lifted off. Pocketing the ancient object, she replaced it with a fake comb, made out of a small, slightly muddy stick, which had baby porcupine quills pushed in.

Behind the small comb was a card which read, finely painted in Indian ink
'With compliments from the collector.'

Go back to beneath the cauldrons for the last chapter and our story to complete. Your keyword consists of just two letters written on the side of one of the cauldrons suspended from the ceiling.
Chapter ten

Sleep Tight

One at a time, each of the homunculi climb back up into their cauldron, The Collector then bids each one ‘good night' before leaving herself in the same manner through which she arrived, re-arming the alarms and shifting through the shadows as if made from nothing more than cloth and air.
Chapter eleven


First light and the gallery alarms were deactivated in the usual manner, all the zones were quiet, none of the lights flashed with warnings of triggers, everything was completely normal. School children arrived and peered through the glass doors at the priceless artefacts secured within and the gallery attendants smiled as if nothing was wrong. Well nothing was wrong, everything appeared as normal, except of course that many of the artefacts were now missing, or not technically missing exactly, more switched with very convincing replicas.

Amongst that mornings visitors were a family of a father and two children, they wandered down the gallery, reading the labels, unravelling the history and enjoying the fantastic displays. Then the daughter pointed up inside the cabinet to something she could see from her vantage point low down.

'Dad' said the little girl, 'what does that say?'

She could see one of The Collectors calling cards, poking out from an exhibit.

‘I'm not sure princess.' The father said ‘perhaps the attendant can help.' As just to their side a gallery assistant was tucking yesterdays crumpled newspaper under his arm.

‘Of course, what would you like to know?'

‘Up there' said the little girl, ‘can you see.'

The assistant knelt down to gaze up at the artefact with a puzzled expression, then he saw the ticket. From that low angle he could clearly read the words on a plain calling card which read,

With compliments of The Collector, perfectly hand written with Indian ink.

'Oh no' said the attendant 'Oh no' he said again, 'I don't think that is a good sign at all!'

Perhaps his observation was a catalyst to the events which followed as suddenly one of the cauldrons high up in the ceiling tipped precariously, and out from inside cascaded a grey dollop of gloop like cold chicken soup. As it hit the floor and splattered about other cauldrons tipped in a similar manner, and their contents spilled out as well, splattering across the gallery floor and over anyone standing beneath!

It was mayhem in the gallery to say the least and wasn't long before the hall was cordoned off as a crime scene. The grey gloop was being mopped away just as the first of the reporters arrived from the press to get the scoop on the story.
Chapter twelve

The Collectors Lair

But deep underground, across a lake of black waters The Collector stepped into her own museum archives, oil lamps illuminated mile upon mile of cavernous space, shelves and cabinets bulged with artefacts. Paintings from celebrated masters were stacked higgeldy-piggeldy here and there, musical instruments of all shapes and sizes lay on top of each other like discarded sports equipment. All these incredibly valuable items gathering dust and mould in the dark cave, it was criminal.

But in a far far corner of the cavern, where The Collector had not trod in decades a small door opened and in stole a doll like figure, perhaps no larger than a two-year-old child and as thin as sticks.

He cast quietly about the chamber unseen, just as his new master had instructed to make preparations for the un-thieving to begin.
Chapter thirteen


Here are some questions about the story, read and discuss whilst some of the other groups finish and catch up.

Q - Why was she stealing the artefacts and what would she be doing with the real items?

Q – What artefact would you steal if you were The Collector, and what contraptions would you employ?

Q – Who has just stolen into her cavern and what are they about to do?

Q - The Homunculi characters are a bit odd, how would you add more character to make them funny / creepy?

Q – Perhaps a twist in the tale is required, maybe all the artefacts in the museum were already fakes perhaps she is actually removing those and replacing them with originals? How would this change the tale, and how would you write it in to the narrative.
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