Members of the LGBT community, working with museum curators, will have an opportunity to explore some of the thousands of art works in the Russell-Cotes, taking inspiration from the museum-founders Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes’ passion for collecting.

They will be able to choose the pieces they love to form a major co-curated exhibition in the museum galleries from May to October 2017. There will also be complimentary workshops, events and celebrations to showcase the museum and its collections.

The funding from HLF will enable the Russell-Cotes to appoint an Audience Development Officer and bring in specialist curators, so the volunteers will be able to unpack and explore the significant, largely undiscovered collections of the Russell-Cotes and bring a new angle and fresh insight.

“2017 is going to be a very significant year with celebrations and events planned throughout the country, so it will be very exciting for the Russell-Cotes to be able to participate,” said Sarah Newman, Programmes Officer. “We are thrilled to be working with Bournemouth’s LGBT community and excited to see the stories and objects they choose to uncover and to celebrate and which resonate with their lives and experience.”

The Russell-Cotes is only able to display a small percentage of its collection at any one time but this exhibition will be an opportunity to explore its ceramics, costume, sculpture and world collections as well as its internationally known art collection.

Louise Clarke, Chair of Bourne Free (the organisers of Bournemouth’s annual Pride Festival), said: “There has never been anything similar in Bournemouth and we are looking forward to seeing the art pieces on display and making connections with them. Marking the 50th anniversary of decriminalising homosexuality, we hope that it will reflect in some areas how far we have come within society, yet sadly, in other areas how far there still is to go.”

The project will be launched on Thursday 20th October 2016 when the LGBT community will be invited to the Russell-Cotes to find out more about the plans and how they can get involved.  For more information on volunteering contact Elissa Noon on [email protected].

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