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Meet our Finalists – The Projects

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By West Midlands Museum Development / Posted on Friday 30th August 2019

Next up we would like you to meet the finalists in the Project category…

Coffin Works’ Collections Volunteers, The Coffin Works’ Collections Audit project, The Coffin Works

“Although an audit is pretty standard in terms of museum work, the effort, timescale and commitment (not to mention working in a draughty Victorian manufactory in the depths of winter!), as well as the speed at which this was achieved was anything but standard. The vast and varied nature of our collection meant a significant amount of volunteer help was needed and by the time we submitted our application they had racked up an impressive 950+ hours between a team of 12 volunteers. The bulk of those hours being completed in an extremely short time frame, beginning in January 2018 in order to meet our Accreditation return deadline by September 2018.

We could not have done this without the powerhouse that is the Coffin Works’ Collection’s Team. This award is to recognise them, but also to mark the achievement of where we’ve got to in just five years. It seeks to highlight the personal efforts of the Team who can often be overlooked, as they do not have the main stage, but without whose dedication and impact we wouldn’t be where we are today.” [Nominator]


Jake Whitehouse Project Volunteers, Jake Whitehouse Collection Website project, Staffordshire Archives & Heritage

In early 2018, Staffordshire County Museum Service had a short term opportunity to digitise an important collection of 1,695 images collected over a lifetime by Jake Whitehouse (1926-2017), local and military historian. Without volunteer help, the project would have been impossible to achieve. A team of volunteers researched caption information, dates and locations for all 1,695 images and entered them into the database between June and November 2018, a phenomenal amount of work in such a short period of time.

To complete the project, the project volunteers also undertook to lead a guided walk of World War 1 remains on Cannock Chase for 90 Etching Hill Primary school pupils; and ran celebration events hosted at Walton Village Hall and the Museum of Cannock Chase. In total, the 24 volunteers involved in the project contributed 763 hours of their time to make it the success it has turned out to be.

“We are fortunate that this group of people are so willing to share their knowledge and committed so much time and energy.”[Nominator]


Lace Guild Volunteers, Hidden in Stores project, The Lace Guild Museum

“The Lace Guild’s Museum is entirely staffed by Volunteers. As an Accredited Museum we have aspired to display lace from the V & A museum. It certainly was the catalyst, the inspiration to transform a very tired, not very public-friendly building into a clean and bright space that we were proud to invite the public into. We applied for grants to improve physical access to our building, and improved accessible toilet facilities.

We have all worked together to realise a long-awaited dream of our Museum Curators. We have supported and inspired each other along the way to move the Lace Guild forward into the 21st Century.

This project is noteworthy in that not only did we achieve a long held aspiration, to bring lace out of the V&A stores to display in the Midlands, to enable visitors to have the opportunity to view a few examples of lace of outstanding interest and beauty, but in so doing we brought the attention of our little Museum to many, who had no idea we existed.  It has galvanized the whole of the Lace Guild into action.” [Nominator]


Reminiscence Volunteer Team, Reminiscence project, Birmingham Back to Backs

A team of dedicated volunteers based at the Birmingham Back to Backs have been working with the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (SMHFT) to make a real meaningful difference for people with Dementia. Sessions were created based on feedback received from visitors with Dementia and their families that the current guided tours of the Back to Backs was simply not suitable for visitors with Dementia.

The Reminiscence Team of volunteers used the 1840’s Levy family house as the setting. Visitors, their families and volunteers along with SMHFT simply sat around like the families would have at the times our houses were lived in. The Reminiscence Team used the coal fires, candles and a cuppa along with introducing artefacts from the Back to Back’s collection to stimulate discussion.

The reminiscence team’s intervention has demonstrated that despite many logistical challenges with careful planning and determination, the Birmingham Back to Backs can and has introduced more flexible tours which are more aligned with the needs of our visitors. Artefacts from their collections that were once overlooked are now carefully the centre of attention during their reminiscence tours.


The Croft Cloth Crafting Team, The Croft Cloth project, Croft Castle

“As part of an exhibition celebrating the 100 anniversary of the representation of the people act we decided to make an art work to celebrate craft and community. It took the form of a signature cloth which were very popular in the early 20th century as a way of fundraising, commemorating an event or just as a statement of friendship. The idea was that anyone could sign their name on a scrap of recycled fabric in the shape of an oak leaf. Then the leaf would be attached to the cloth and initially exhibited at Christmas, but then to be given a space in the castle for posterity.

Visitors could sit at a table and sign and embroider their own leaf or the team would do it for them.

Our fantastic volunteer team sewed over 2000 leaves and formed a crafting group that is already working on new ways to create community projects to engage and amaze our visitors.” [Nominator]


Works on Paper Volunteers, Works on Paper project, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham Museum Trust

“Our Works on Paper volunteer team of six, alongside our Collections Digitisation Assistant, are working through this collection of 36,000 objects, one at a time measuring and condition checking all items and then photographing them. They are also updating all of the objects digital records to ensure we have the correct information about this significantly important collection. As the majority of this collection have not been displayed or digitised previously, the public will be able to enjoy some of these works for the very first time. We think this is pretty special!

The Works on Paper project has exceeded all expectations with regards to our volunteer team. Bryce, Helen, Isobel, Leanne, Mariel and Monica are such champions of Birmingham Museums and the collection and their hard work is ensuring that a significant number of objects are correctly recorded, inventoried and photographed whilst also helping to make them more publically accessible. We really believe that they deserve to be acknowledged for the dedication and enthusiasm they have bought to our organisation.” [Nominator]

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