One of the oldest independent museums in the country, the Haslemere Educational Museum celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2013. The anniversary provided an opportunity to increase the profile of the museum, secure publicity, strengthen the supporter base, engage in fundraising and promote the museum.

A comprehensive, year-long campaign that included a diverse range of activities was designed with at least one significant event taking place each month. A highlight of the campaign was the first royal visit to the museum by HRH The Countess of Wessex. Each event was supported by other one-off or ongoing activities that were museum and supporter organised. The involvement of supporters and the local community ensured that the project could be carried out in a very cost effective manner.

Events included a Museum Mural made by local schools and groups that was displayed in the town throughout the year; a 125th anniversary exhibition was displayed in the museum and there was a birthday card competition. There was also a 125th Birthday Party and mini fete, a Founders Music Festival and throughout the year a 125th Birthday Comments Tree became a feature of the Museum where visitors could leave messages and provide a canopy for the tree.

As part of the campaign, the Museum launched a major fundraising endowment appeal called ‘Museum in a Million’ in order to raise at least £1,000,000. This endowment fund will enable the Museum to be sustainable in the long term. This was supported with special fundraising events such as bridge playing, bike races, coffee mornings, walks, lectures, a food festival, a music festival and more. Unique branded items based on iconic parts of the collection were designed and produced to mark the anniversary, both for sale and presentation.

A multi-layered action plan of activities and goals formed the bedrock of the project with the goal of appealing to a wide audience and engaging as many people as possible during the year. A dedicated committee, regular planning and volunteer and external support to reduce costs all contributed to the success of the project.

Melanie Odell MBE, Chairman said: “Haslemere Educational Museum is delighted to have won the Best Project on a limited budget award, especially in the light of such stiff competition. The 125th anniversary year was very special for all the volunteers, staff and supporters of the Museum and the highlight was a visit from HRH The Countess of Wessex. The Trustees are delighted that the hard work of all the staff and volunteers has been recognised in this way. As an independent museum it can be difficult to maintain the funds and resources needed to provide the service to our community and beyond, so awards such as this make a real difference to the dedicated team.”

The creativity and originality of the project and the diverse nature of the activities involved meant that multiple outcomes could be achieved. With over 40,000 visitors, an increased supporter base and engagement with new visitors, the results were exactly what the museum hoped for. The museum’s brand was strengthened, its profile raised and an incredible amount of funds were raised, all for a very modest outlay.

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