The formation of a new Community Advisory Panel will give local people the chance to shape the existing collections at sites run by Museums Northumberland – Woodhorn Museum, Hexham Old Gaol, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
Panel members will be invited to take part in discussions regarding how future exhibitions and additions to collections reflect the communities living and working in the region today.
Museums Northumberland hopes people of all ages and backgrounds will come forward to contribute, helping to ensure the entirety of Northumberland’s population is represented.
“As we look ahead to our future, we want to review our existing collections in partnership with the local communities we serve,” explains Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland. “We want to make sure our exhibitions and collections remain relevant and that we continue to share Northumberland’s rich and diverse stories in engaging and accessible ways.”
The project, named Femmer to Firmer (femmer meaning fragile in Northumbrian dialect), is being supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and could herald a shift in the way over 25,000 objects spanning 90 million years of the region’s history are managed.
“Museums are all about people and their histories, so it is very exciting that communities and individuals in Northumberland are being invited to get involved in planning the future of Museums Northumberland and the wonderful collections it cares for,” asserts Museums Northumberland trustee Lindsay Allason-Jones.
Sarah Briggs, collections development officer at Museums Association, who awarded the funding on behalf of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, adds that the project serves as a reminder that “collections are held by museums for people and that communities are the true owners of these priceless resources”.