Tag Archives: Exeter

South West Federation Conference 2019: ‘Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away’

Imogene Dudley, a PhD student in the History Department at the University of Exeter, tells us about her experience of attending the South West Fed conference in July…

Thanks to the generosity of the South-West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries, myself and several other students from the University of Exeter got the chance to attend their recent conference, hosted by Cornerstone Heritage at the University of Plymouth on 4-5 July. The theme of the conference was ‘Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away’.

The train journey from Exeter to Plymouth, along the beautiful South Devon coast, inspired an excited, holiday feeling in my small group of Exeter students before we had even arrived at the conference. We are all postgraduate students in the Humanities and had applied for the free tickets as we want a career in the heritage sector. We hoped that the talks would give us a more detailed and specific insight into the industry, and that by networking with delegates we might gain some useful contacts. At the very least, it would be an interesting couple of days. We were not disappointed!

The conference began with a keynote from Stephen Bird, Head of Heritage Services at Bath and North East Somerset Council, who is responsible for tourist attractions including the world-famous Roman Baths. He spoke about the importance of meeting the needs of both local audiences and international tourists, and told us about new developments in accessibility and education at the attraction. The first day also saw talks regarding the tensions between protecting and preserving Stonehenge, finding new ways to engage the community with church spaces, and the challenges involved with curating the Mayflower 400 exhibition (due to open in Plymouth in 2020), as well as a workshop on how to use audience research to improve engagement and development with heritage sites.

After a rejuvenating night’s sleep, we were all ready to learn more about the heritage sector on our second day at the conference. We listened to another fascinating keynote, this time by Victoria Rogers on the building of the Cardiff Museum from scratch and the involvement of the community, and talks on how to use work experience to engage disadvantaged youth with the heritage and arts sector, the story of the new Kresen Kernow archives in Cornwall, and how Castle Drogo has kept its audiences interested during important renovation work. We also heard from Cornerstone Heritage about how it has been uncovering the LGBT history of Powderham Castle and integrating it into public tours in an understanding and empathetic way.

All in all, it was an extremely interesting and stimulating two days. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the South-West Federation for providing free tickets to Exeter students, as without this I would have been unable to attend. The formal talks and the informal networking that is involved in conference attendance gave me a valuable insight into the heritage industry and gave me the inspiration and confidence to apply for jobs in the sector.

The City Museum – preserving the heritage of Exeter City Football Club

The main achievement of the HLF-funded Exeter City Football Club Museum project has been the creation of a sport heritage museum at St James Park, home to Exeter City Football Club (2019). The project, a collaboration between Exeter University and Exeter City Football Trust and Club, is led by Gabriella Giannachi, an expert in performance art and new media documentation and preservation in the museum context. Gabriella wanted to utilise research methodologies developed with Tate, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, LIMA and RAMM, and adapt them in the context of sport heritage. Will Barrett, a researcher at Exeter University, has been the project co-ordinator, and Club and Trust Directors Martin Weiler, Paul Farley and Elaine Davies have acted as members of the project management team that regularly meets to discuss progress and assess the stream of donations the Club has been receiving since announcing it would set up a museum to look after its heritage. Since 2016, over 30 undergraduate Exeter University student volunteers, experts in conservation, art and design, heritage, and photography, as well as a large number of fan volunteers, have contributed to the project.

The setting up of a museum is the culmination of a five-year collaboration which started in 2013. At that time, Gabriella was working with Tate and RAMM to create platforms that would allow people to encounter their collections outside of the museum. Gabriella wanted to test the Timetrails platform she developed with Will, 1010 Media and RAMM in a different context. Tom Cadbury, Assistant Curator for Antiquities at RAMM, pointed out that the Club had a lot of heritage and introduced them to Paul who was already at that time looking after the heritage there. With some seed funding from HEIF, a number of trails about the Club were created and tested, and they soon realised that what they really wanted was to collect, digitise, preserve and share the heritage at the club to unearth its rich and valuable history.

A pilot website called The Grecian Archive was developed to this extent by the Digital Humanities Lab at the University. The popularity of the site soon encouraged the team to bid to the Arts and Humanities research Council (AHRC) for being part of the Being Human Festival in 2016 to employ the professional football photographer and FIFA consultant Peter Robinson, who then documented the Old Grandstand, which was about to be demolished. At the same time, they also bid to HLF so that they could start to catalogue the heritage and crowdsource missing elements in the Club’s history through a series of heritage gathering events. These led to the documentation of more than 80 fans’ and players’ memories about the Club’s heritage, looking specifically at the Old Grandstand. These interviews led to the production of two long films, a set of 3D scans (also produced by the Lab), three trails, and, through a subsequent HLF award, three medium-length films, two temporary exhibitions and six permanent exhibitions. The latter include the recently launched Legends Wall, running along the jungle path; A Chronology and Hall of Fame in the brand new Stagecoach Adam Stansfield stand; and a bespoke museum room, which has a number of displays and is very popular on tours. A film shot by the HLF South West Development Officer capturing this amazing story will be launched soon.

Together for Heritage – with the University of Exeter

The South West Fed is an independent membership organisation that aims to:

  • Demonstrate the strength and breadth of heritage in the South West;
  • Connect people together for the benefit of organisations and their audiences;
  • Inspire those working in and for heritage in the South West to deliver to the highest standards.

Our annual conference is one of the opportunities we create to deliver on these aims. For the last three years, we’ve been fortunate to be hosted by, and work in partnership with, the University of Exeter, where the facilities allow us to deliver a conference that raises the bar and meets our aspiration to be the leading heritage sector event in the region. The sun shining each time we’ve been there helps too!

We strive to hit a sweet spot with our conference, which is serving a regional sector where 30% of museums are entirely volunteer run. To hit that spot, we want delegates to be both inspired and to take away practical examples to help their organisations or practice. We also want to ensure that the opportunities to network are relaxed and varied, with a range of delegates from students to senior professionals.

2018 was the first year we’ve put out a call for papers, and we were delighted with the variety of responses to the theme of ‘Visits and Collections’. A stand-out element was the contribution from students and researchers such as Rosalind Mearns (on dress up installations) or Dr Andrew Rudd and curator Holly Morgenroth (on the Cresswell collection at RAMM, which brilliantly complemented presentations from those working on the frontline, such as keynote Helen Bonser Wilton, CEO of the Mary Rose Trust, or the trials and tribulations of delivering a family-friendly museum by Aerospace Bristol.

Break-out rooms were used to get hands-on in workshops, including how to pack a crisp courtesy of Wiltshire Council Conservation and Museum Advisory Service!

The networking opportunities were buzzing with delegates’ conversations about what had inspired them, surrounded by our valued corporate members’ trade stands and a display about the Cresswell collection.

Next year, we continue our collaboration with the University by holding the conference at the Penryn campus, in partnership with Cornwall Museums Partnership. The theme is ‘Inspiring Audiences Home and Away’ – and if that inspires you to think about submitting a paper, then look out for the call in November this year!

Written by Anna Bryant, MA, AMA

Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 18 years.  She was Chair of the South West Fed from 2016-18 and currently works for Volunteer Makers.

www.swfed.org.uk

@SWFed @AnnaBryantSW

Creativity and Stewardship in Changing Landscapes

Mid-Cornwall’s china clay country has seen many changes over the last several hundred years, and it continues to change along with the clay industry and the surrounding communities. In dynamic landscapes like this, planning for the future while respecting the past and offering opportunities for community engagement can be challenging.

In early May, a diverse group of people gathered for a workshop at the Wheal Martyn Museum in St Austell to talk about the role of the Arts in landscape management and development activity in places like the china clay area. Artists, industry representatives, curators, academics, heritage practitioners, land managers and others spent three days talking about how creative perspectives can help reframe problems as possibilities, and suggest new forms of stewardship for transitional places.

Workshop participants continued their discussions in the field on visits to the Sky Tip, Littlejohns Pit and Blackpool Pit. Sean Simpson, Imerys Business Development Coordinator, and Chris Varcoe, who is working with Eco-Bos on the West Carclaze development, led the field trip and offered their inside perspective on some of the challenges and opportunities presented by the post-operational china clay landscape. Chris said: “Eco-Bos were delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussions that took place during the workshop, and to have the opportunity to share with the group its innovative proposals for the West Carclaze Garden Village.”

Workshop participants at Littlejohns Pit, Cornwall

The workshop was linked to the Heritage Futures research project, a four-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Professor Caitlin DeSilvey, of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, is leading research into heritage and transformation. Sites beyond Cornwall include a rewilding project in Portugal and the ex-military site of Orford Ness on the Suffolk coast. Participants in the May workshop included Heritage Futures project partners from Portugal, as well as other international participants from Ireland and the United States.

Jo Moore, Wheal Martyn Museum curator, commented: “There was a real buzz from the group over the few days and everyone I spoke to clearly found them stimulating and really enjoyable.” The group produced a set of draft principles, which integrated perspectives from industry, heritage and creative practice.  For more information about the Heritage Futures project and the workshop outcomes, please contact Caitlin DeSilvey, .

 

Three tips on building a career in international heritage management

The University of Exeter is offering all new students enrolling on its MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy programme in September 2018 a £1,000 tuition fee discountRead more and apply now.

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. What fields of heritage management are you interested in? Do you think you’d enjoy the practical, day-to-day elements of being a heritage consultant as well as the theoretical aspects of public history?

There is no set career path in heritage, which can be daunting for some, but liberating for others. I stumbled into heritage management because of my archaeological and anthropological work in southern Africa. My first degree was in history, and my MA was in Heritage and Museum Studies. Doing fieldwork and volunteering in countries outside of Europe not only gives you a taste of what it’s like to work with diverse groups – often with vastly different, and even sometimes irreconcilable worldviews – but it also helps you identify what you’re good at. This in turn will allow you to target specific companies and institutions within heritage sectors – both in the UK and abroad – when you are applying for jobs.

2. Network! I’d also thought I wasn’t cut out for networking. Surely all the big names in the heritage sector were fed up of overly-eager and recently-qualified graduates introducing themselves at events and sending emails asking about upcoming opportunities? It turns out, however, that most of the established experts who pull the strings (and often control the purse strings) are affable, approachable, and keen to meet new people – especially if they are passionate about their subject and heritage in general.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Heritage experts in the UK often know and collaborate with heritage experts overseas. If someone that is respected by colleagues endorses you, it’s likely that you’re more than half way to making it onto a future employer’s shortlist, whether in the UK or abroad.

3. Gain extra qualifications, and volunteer. In addition to courses like the University of Exeter’s new MA in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, volunteering is an excellent idea – especially because many of your competitors will likely have done the same. Volunteering – both in the UK and abroad – not only provides you with invaluable new experiences and a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses, it also helps you expand your professional network. Most of all, working abroad is rewarding, and fun!

Written by Dr Jamie Hampson, Senior Lecturer in Heritage, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus