In this article Jill Draper explains more about this project to engage with the public over the future of Guildford Museum
Guildford Museum Grant success!
You may have heard the good news that Guildford Museum has secured a grant from Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund. A sum of nearly £85,000 is a significant award with the potential to help transform the museum, but what is the Resilience Fund and what will the grant achieve?
Arts Council England (ACE) receives its funding directly from the government and the National Lottery for the purpose of championing, developing and investing in the arts. This includes supporting a range of cultural activities and services, from museums and libraries to theatre, literature, music and digital art. The Museum Resilience Fund is one of a number of initiatives ACE offers to target funding at particular challenges facing the sector. This grant fund aims to support museums in becoming more resilient by giving them the means to grasp opportunities to develop and improve. At a time of great challenge for museums this made it an appealing source of funding and one which attracted a high number of applications. Guildford was up against stiff competition and was delighted to secure an award for its project, Your Stories, Your Museum.
As you will know, Guildford Borough Council is now progressing development of the historic Castle site including joining the Museum with the Castle Grounds and building an extension to house new displays and facilities. This will be a once in several lifetimes’ opportunity to improve the Museum buildings. We, therefore, decided to focus our Museum Resilience Fund project on the museum service and, particularly, our relationship with the town, the borough and its community. We wanted to ensure it was complementary to the architectural scheme and would work with it to create a lively community museum for the 21st century.
Your Stories, Your Museum will concentrate on building closer links between the Museum and its community through research and practical projects. It will give the team the resources and knowledge to trial new ways of involving local people in shaping and providing museum services. From our pilot projects we will be able to build links with others, gain experience and see what works best and can be developed in future. For example, we might partners with local businesses to explore the story of Guildford’s reputation as the Hollywood of the gaming industry and to build the museum’s collections in this area. We could also work with a group of local school children to help them curate their own display about Guildford past and present. We will also look at ways for the community to get involved in determining how we should present our displays and themes to cater for and interest a broad range of local people, particularly those who do not visit currently.
The Heritage Team’s work in business year 2016-17 will include producing a number of strategies and plans with the help of specialist consultants. These will generate background research and knowledge of similar projects undertaken by other museums to generate ideas for our own practical projects and action plans. We will then implement these during 2017-18 and gather results to feed into plans for the new museum site and a refreshed museum service. The grant will also fund some additional staff hours, something much needed as the team will have to continue the day job of providing heritage services at our other sites, while working on this project. We will be busy!
We hope you will be as excited as we are about this grant and the opportunities it brings for the Museum. With this and the architectural plans, we are now looking to the future with optimism. We will update the Friends of Guildford Museum on progress of the museum development and the Museum Resilience project and ways you can get involved. In the meantime, we look forward to opportunities and challenges ahead with both schemes and a brighter future on the horizon!