Volunteer project boosted by Arts Council England

Arts Council England has awarded Swindon Museum and Art Gallery £92,700 to support a volunteer research and exhibition project through the museum’s ‘Unlocking Collections’ program.

Published: Tuesday, 29th August 2023

Swindon MAG

The project will recruit volunteers from a range of communities within Swindon, especially those who haven’t been involved with the museum before.

Four volunteer teams will research different parts of the museum’s collection, aiming to add wider context and knowledge to the museum’s collections and improve the museum’s digital records. The project will also work towards new and upgraded displays for the new

Museum and Art Gallery at its new home in the Civic Offices.

The volunteer teams will work on one of four projects:

  • ‘Art on Our Doorstep’ will work with some of the museum’s local art collection, helping to identify the present-day location of the scenes depicted and biographical artist information
  • ‘Jurassic Swindon’ will explore the rich palaeontological history of Swindon’s prehistoric past
  • ‘Out on the Town’ will investigate the museum’s collection of artefacts and ephemera from theatres, concert halls and music venues across Swindon
  • ‘Our Musical World’ will examine and add new context to the museum’s collection of musical instruments from South and East Asia

Frances Yeo, Swindon Museums Manager, said: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity for people living in Swindon to get to know what is in their museum’s collection.

“We want to involve as many people as possible, so there’s no need to have an academic background, or have volunteered with the museum before.

“By involving a diverse range of people, we will get new perspectives on the material we care for and we’ll be able to tell new stories as part of our ongoing exhibitions programme.”

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Cabinet Member for Heritage, Art and Culture said: “We want to make sure as many people as possible get involved with Swindon’s rich cultural and artistic stories – whether that is by researching it themselves or discovering it through our museums.

“I’m very happy to see Arts Council England recognise the importance of our collections by awarding us this funding, and I can’t wait to find out more when the exhibitions open in our new Museum and Art Gallery.”

Sarah Crown, Director of Literature at Arts Council England, said: “As the national development agency for creativity and culture, Arts Council England is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality arts and culture in the places where they live, and as such, we’re delighted to support this ‘Unlocking Collections’ project, made possible thanks to our National Lottery Project grants.

“Swindon Museum’s excellent range of artefacts tells the story of the town’s rich and fascinating cultural history, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this grant will allow the community to interact with them in new and creative ways.”

The project will run for around 12 months, and will conclude with the volunteers co-curating exhibitions on their subjects with the Museum’s Collections and Exhibitions team. Research information will also be available in the museum’s new study room and online.

If you are interested in being involved in the ‘Unlocking Swindon’ Project, please contact John Wood from the museum’s team – jwood2@swindon.gov.uk for more information.

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