Sharing Heritage: Museum Makers Group celebrates £6,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

Museum-Makers

The Museum Makers rehearsing for their latest performance ‘The Vikings are Coming!’ at the Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant, it was announced today.  The grant will fund an exciting Museum Makers project which will provide educational and inspirational opportunities for adults with learning disabilities as they engage with the collections at the Museum.  

The project will work with local disability groups, carers, specialist artists and performers on a wide range of creative activities inspired by the Museum’s desire to share the stories of Dorset’s heritage with vulnerable adults in the community.  Weekly creative sessions will include activities such as acting, music, craft making and shadow puppetry which will result in the group producing and performing a play and a film for friends, family and the wider community to enjoy, all inspired by the Museum’s collections.

The initial focus for the group will be recently acquired archaeology collections including the Viking skeletons discovered on the South Dorset Ridgeway, which the Museum Makers will use to explore the Viking connection with Dorset, performing a play based on their discoveries.

The latter half of the project will see the group explore themes relating to the Museum’s current exhibition of railway posters of the twentieth century, Speed to the West:  a Nostalgic Journey.  From this they will produce a film on the coming of the railway to Dorchester, connections with Dorset’s literary heritage and the founding of the Museum itself in response to the threat posed by the construction of the new railways to Dorset’s archaeological heritage and natural history.

Commenting on the award, Andy Worth, Museum Makers Volunteer, said “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started on the project. The Museum Makers group will feel a stronger sense of belonging to their community through engaging with Dorset’s past, and at the same time they will be developing their own self-confidence through learning new skills, performing and film-making.  We’re also delighted by the support we’ve had from Dorset County Museum, and can’t emphasise enough how crucial this interim grant is to the Museum Makers. ”  

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of Dorset County Museum added “This will be a really fantastic project, and staff and volunteers here at the Museum will give our whole hearted support to the Museum Makers in any way that we can.”

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Dorset County Museum Thanksgiving Party is Great Success

Dorchester Thanksgiving Party Cake

The beautiful Dorchester Thanksgiving Party Cake created and kindly donated by Angel Cake Company

Friday 14th November saw an enthusiastic crowd at Dorset County Museum celebrating Thanksgiving with new friends in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The fundraising event brought together people from both sides of the Atlantic in a joint venture to raise money for Dorset County Museum’s new Collections Discovery Centre. A total of just over £1400 was raised on the night which will go directly towards funding the project

Staff and trustees of Dorset County Museum would like to express their thanks to the following people who made the event such a success: Lord and Lady Fellowes of West Stafford; Peter Mann, Mayor of Dorchester; David Taylor, Museum Fundraising Team Leader; Jan Cosgrove, David Cuckson, Jane Squirrell, Volunteers of the Museum’s Fundraising team; Mark North, Andy Worth, Ian Condon, Jenny Devitt, Film and Media Technicians;  John Fiori from the Horse with the Red Umbrella and Nicci Campbell of the Angel Cake Company for the food and the cake, plus Dorchester Town Crier Alistair Chisholm and members of the New Hardy Players.

Dorchester Thanksgiving Party

Crowds gather in the museum for the Dorchester Thanksgiving Party

During the evening, the two Dorchesters were directly connected by a live video link. Julian Fellowes talked with the Rt Reverend Richard Kellaway and the Rev Arthur Lovoie from the First Parish Church in Dorchester Massachusetts, assisted by  who had been helping to coordinate the event on the American side. A major element in the joint heritage of the two towns is the rectory of the Reverend John White. A listed building, it was here that events took place that played a key role in the founding of the United States of America. Regeneration of this site, in the centre of Dorchester’s urban conservation area, will help promote understanding of Dorset’s international story and provide a definite link for the many tens of thousands of people around the world who can trace their family heritage back to Dorset.

Lord Julian Fellowes

Lord Julian Fellowes of West Stafford

The Museum’s Collections Discovery Centre project has been developed to provide new galleries, learning resources, collections storage facilities and a renewed public face for the Museum. The new centre will enable the museum to showcase its collections, spanning over 185 million years. It will build a safe conservation environment and sustainable future for the heritage the collections represent. This will enable more people to learn about history and prehistory using the Museum’s collections, and create additional collecting capacity for

 Julian Fellowes speaks to First Parish Dorchester - Rev. Arthur R. Lavoie, Phil Lindsay and Rev. Richard Kellaway — with Julian Fellowes at Dorset County Museum.

Lord Julian Fellowes speaks to First Parish Dorchester – Rev. Arthur R. Lavoie, Phil Lindsay and Rev. Richard Kellaway

Dorset’s strategically important collections such as the archaeology of the South Dorset Ridgeway and the geology of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

In addition, new galleries will encourage more people to visit and experience the collections including groups which do not currently use the Museum and visitors will be able to see, for the first time, objects in reserve collections which are not normally on display. The scheme will also help to improve the cultural tourism offer for Dorset, and support the regional economy. The Museum is in the heart of a rural county, in the centre of the county town, and in an area that attracts visitors from across the UK. In this location, with the right investment, the new centre will provide wonderful access to the region’s heritage and become an essential part of the experience of visiting Dorset.

Further fundraising events are currently being planned to support the project – for more information visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone the Museum on 01305 262735.

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