Click on the events below to find out more about our past events
We would like to release recordings of past events, however we have yet to edit them to be more accessible. If you have skills that could help us, please email email@example.com
You Can't Touch This! How to keep engaging with heritage during a global pandemic
Philip Walker, Head of Culture at Gloucester City Council, spoke to South West Fed members about the varied and creative ways in which he and his team engaged audiences over the last nine months.
Philip shared lessons learned using examples of how the cultural and heritage sector in the city managed to adapt to the changing circumstances. For example, the Museum of Gloucester and other heritage partners found innovative ways to continue to connect with communities and engage them with culture remotely.
Addressing the colonial legacies of Wellcome’s collections
James Peto, Project Director of the collections gallery at the Wellcome Collection, opens the conversation of how the Wellcome Collection should tackle inequities inherent in its collections to make them relevant and relatable today.
This was a talk of a collection of objects, archives and artworks largely assembled by Sir Henry Wellcome and his agents between 1890 and 1936 to facilitate a better understanding of the "art and science of healing throughout the ages”.
James was able to share the ways in which the collections were acquired, and the stories they have been used to tell, reflecting power structures, beliefs and values to which Wellcome Collection does not ascribe in 2021.
Building Partnerships and Attracting Funding to See you Through
Cassie Griffiths; Senior Engagement Manager, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Victoria Harding; Programme Manager, South West Museum Development, Sharon Heal; Director, Museums Association shared their insights into how museums and heritage organisations have the potential to react to the huge changes we face, including Covid, Black Lives Matter and the Climate & Ecological Emergency.
They were able to share what help is available and what practical steps can be taken to address these seismic changes and create a sustainable, vibrant and innovative sector.
Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy
Jo Loosemore, Visiting Curator of ‘Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy’ for The Box, Plymouth considers the ethical issues faced in creating an exhibition marking 400 years since the sailing of the Mayflower.
The story of the Mayflower's voyage has come to define England’s relationship with America, yet it has also denied indigenous Americans their part in this history. What lessons have we really learned about power, politics and presenting the past? What is the influence of ambition, economics and expectation in the present? Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy opened at The Box, Plymouth – during the pandemic. Its curation raised ethical questions about cultural collisions then – and now.
Behind the Interpretation: Co-creating the development of three new maritime galleries at Poole Museum
Those interested in co-creation and how it can be affectively used to develop interpretation and design in heritage/ cultural setting were joined by Dr Alex Reynolds for this talk.
This talk gave an overview of the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) funded Our Museum project at Poole Museum and explored the co-creative process used to develop interpretation and design of three new maritime galleries associated with the project. Informed by wider best practice in museum co-creation, the interpretive methodology of this project has incorporated a range of creative and collaborative interventions with core and target audiences. These activities were described in detail, tracing findings and their use as fundamental anchor points for the development of design and interpretation in the museum’s new gallery spaces.
From Bugs to Bytes – supporting museums in the South West through the Pandemic and beyond.
Helena Jaeschke; Conservation Development Officer and Rachel Cartwright; Digital Engagement Officer and Vic Harding; Programme Manager, from South West Museum Development took us through a couple of examples of how South West Museum Development have supported Museums to adapt their practice, maximise funding and safeguard our collections.
Pest Partners was a great example of identifiing pests o our collections and provided the tools to us all to better protect our collections.
This event was free and was followed by our 90th Annual General Meeting.
Camera, Action, Conservation: Managing the risks of filming in heritage locations.
Claire Fry, from Spencer and Fry, shared a feast of challenges and opportunities that filming presents in any heritage setting. Claire left no stone unturned as she shared her wealth of knowledge and experience in having film crews on site. Everything from assertiveness training to keeping an eye out to make sure tennis balls haven't fallen off the feet of chair legs and tripods. It was fascinating to see some behind the scene snaps of how they make magic happen on set - fake walls, rain, snow and green screens were some of the canny ways to adapt the space and convey their artistic endeavours. Claire reminded us that her role is to protect the site and its contents, where theirs is to make a great production. It is worth remembering that these different tasks are what matters to everyone on site.
Photo courtesy of Claire Fry
90th Anniversary Event
"I was very proud to host South West Fed members and colleagues on the board, at No.1 Royal Crescent in Bath for our 90th birthday event. The organisation has developed hugely from its early beginnings, later registering as a charity, then becoming the regional body for sector funding and guidance and today, focussing on networking, peer to peer learning and support. The South West Fed has continued to demonstrate great resilience throughout its 90 years and the way in which the organisation has continually changed and adapted to meet the needs of those who volunteer and work in the sector has been a testament to its ongoing relevance and importance. The South West Fed is in a strong position today, with a clear mission and focus, some new faces on the board that are bringing energy and enthusiasm, as well as ambition for our future as we emerge from the pandemic. I am honoured to have served the Fed and secured its future so that it can continue to flourish for the next 90 years and I would like to thank everyone who has continued to support us and volunteer with us. Happy Birthday!"
Claire Dixon; Chair of the South West Fed
A Historic House Transformed
We heard from both Claire Dixon; Director of No.1 Royal Crescent and Jamie McCall; Creative Director of PLB. Such an incredible transformation into a world away from tradition and into a world of immersion, complete with sounds and smells. A project driven by a loss of 90% income overnight as a result of Covid 19, and a need to find a viable business model. With the support of National Lottery Heritage and Cultural Recovery grants, No.1 Royal Crescent found a way to reinvent its 21st century Georgian house 'bringing visions to life', creating something for visitors to step back in time, to interact with staff and residents. When you visit, you will be transported to Thursday 14 October 1779, or will you experience a Georgian Christmas, or will it be something else? Thank you PLB for sponsoring the event making it free for our members.
Unlocking Heritage; Bold & Inclusive Digital Storytelling
Dr Anna Rutherford; Director of Design West joined us to share the Hidden Bristol app. A recording will be available in the New Year. Fo now, you will have to settle for my brief overview. It was wonderful to hear how the act of walking and exploring with guidance that has been curated with the community results in a enriching experience for the listener. I look forward to going on an 'audio adventure' when I am next in the City of Bristol. The recording will reveal how the app and tours were made, the challenges, successes and opportunities for digital tech in keeping heritage relevant.
Stepping into Heritage
We hosted 40 attendees for our first student event as we began our work to engage more with those in education and Early Career Professionals across the South West. The online event took the form of a panel discussion with our guests, Karina Virahsawmy (Alfred Gillet Trust) and Laurence Harvey (National Trust) who gave insight into their career paths and some great tips for the next generation of Heritage workers.
Tips to pass on:
Image: Karina Virasawmy working on Collections
Democratic Spaces: Now Gallery's Work for Greenwich Peninsula
We kicked off the year with a talk led by Kaia Charles & Jemima Burrill from the NOW Gallery in Greenwich Peninsula who shared experiences about their work in the community. This arts organisation produces cultural events both inside the gallery and beyond in surrounding outside spaces to both engage local audiences and attract visitors to the area. They seek out the work of young and emerging artists and offer them a platform. It was interesting to hear about the various artists they have worked with and how each has brought fresh ideas to transform the spaces available. The budget for the gallery comes directly from the developer of the area and shows how highly culture is valued in ‘place making’ and the bringing together and creating of communities.
Image: What I Like, Molly Goddard 2016 , image courtesy, Charles Emerson
Welcoming Everyone: New Interpretation at Salisbury Cathedral
Last month’s Spotlight Talk provided a fascinating insight into a recent Culture Recovery Fund project to improve the visitor experience at Salisbury Cathedral. Jane Morgan, Director of Communications and Development, talked through the challenges of delivering an ambitious yet quickfire project which aimed to increase emotional engagement and accessibility, and reveal untold aspects of the Cathedral’s history and community in a way that is relevant to all visitors. Consultant Polly Richards gave some practical tips on how they delivered the project, ensuring that the four narrative themes identified in the Interpretation Plan were communicated. The themes were: Cathedral as a place of worship The history of the Cathedral Creativity Living Cathedral The team harnessed digital technology as a Covid-safe and engaging way of presenting the themes. QR codes linked to short 1-minute films made by a member of staff are dotted around the Cathedral at key locations – for example one of the clergy explains the role of the baptismal font. The team have yet to conduct a full evaluation of the new interventions but anecdotally it has been a huge success with visitors.
The Colston statue display – culture wars or culture as peace maker?
Ray Barnett , Head of Collections and Archives at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery/M Shed gave an informative talk about the events after the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol in 2020. In the midst of international headlines and the acquittal of the ‘Colston Four’ in early 2022, the Bristol Museums team were charged with taking on the statue, liaising with We are Bristol History Commission, in order to create a display at M Shed to engage with Bristolians on the future of the statue and what it represents.
The Bishop’s Palace: Promoting Wellbeing Through Community Engagement
A hybrid and online event.
Our host for our first in person event of 2022 was Siobhan Goodwin, Community Engagement Manager at The Bishops’ Palace. This was a stimulating day in beautiful surroundings to learn about the Bishop’s Palace work with the local community and to network with colleagues from across the museum and heritage sector. During an interactive walk and a presentation (which was also broadcast live online), we found out how the Bishop’s Palace team have engaged a wide range of community groups during the pandemic to create a safe space throughout the 14 acre RHS Partner gardens.
Sector networking and AGM
It was a fantastic chance to meet up with sector peers and join the AGM. Attendees enjoyed a self-guided visit around St. Nicholas Priory and refreshments were provided.
The self-guided visit around St Nicholas Priory allowed us to consider and discuss the challenges that come with balancing the demands of a historic building, funders, audiences and profitability, and consider how these challenges might be met.
11am Peer networking and coffee
1pm Self-guided site visit
Tackling Difficult Content: Approaches to Staff Wellbeing
We discovered how Kew Palace created an exhibition with powerful visitor experiences and a more open conversation around mental ill health.
In 2021, Kew Palace’s ‘George III: The Mind Behind the Myth’ exhibition focussed on history’s most famous psychiatric patient. Community groups and volunteers contributed to the show, creating a powerful exploration of mental ill health at a time when the UK is undergoing a mental health crisis. Visitor Hosts were trained through a partnership with CALM and a new model for supporting staff with challenging content was developed and piloted. This work resulted in powerful visitor experiences and a more open conversation with visitors, and the model can be easily adapted to other areas of museum work.
Hardy’s Wessex: Delivering Home Grown Exhibitions in Partnership
Kristina Broughton, the Partnership Manager for Wessex Museums, a consortium of four museums across Dorset & Wiltshire, an NPO and a registered charity.;Harriet Still, one of the UK’s leading experts on Thomas Hardy; and Lucy Johnston, Exhibitions Officer at Dorset Museum, home of the largest collection of Thomas Hardy objects in the world co-led a talk to explore the concept, model, challenges and successes of the exhibition 'Hardy’s Wessex: the landscapes that inspired a writer’.
Anna Riggs, Polly Andrews, Dr Amy Frost, Izzy Wall and Hannah Whittingham co-led a talk on how archivists, curators, and heritage volunteers realistically approach addressing problematic and racist language? The problematic language found in these articles led the speakers to apply for funding to commission guidance on addressing derogatory language in historical collections. The document is called ‘Finding the Words’ and aims to help archivists, curators, and volunteers begin to address racist legacies with sensitivity and honesty.
Winter celebrations, altogether, surrounding by lights. Members gathered at Saltram, near Plymouth and Tyntesfield near Bristol for a mulled drink to warm the bones and a talk from the respective Property Curators.
Our Oceans Our Planet
Staff from Royal Museums Greenwich gave us a whistle stop tour of (almost all of) the work they are doing on sustainability. The talk focused on the exhibition: Our Ocean Our Planet: Sustainability at Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG). They discussed RMG’s overarching strategy, ‘Charting our course’, their sustainability forum and green champion programme as well as their family and intergenerational offer through the World Oceans Day festival, artist collaborations and the Schools Partnership programme. They have made an online resource: Our Ocean Our Planet. We hope you will find it useful.