Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019

In March, Cornwall Museums Partnership and SW Museum Development hosted the annual Cornwall Heritage Awards to celebrate and champion the amazing work that’s taking place across museums in Cornwall.

In our final blog looking back at this year’s awards, we take a shine a light on the Cornish Object of the Year Award. This category was open to public vote and showcased some of the magnificent objects in museum collections across Cornwall.

Winner – Cornish Object of Year Award
The Gurney Stove – The Castle Heritage Centre Bude


The Castle Heritage Centre, Bude, collecting the award for winning Cornish Object of the Year 2019.


The Gurney Stove – located at The Castle Heritage Centre, Bude – was one of the most successful inventions of Cornishman Sir Goldsworthy Gurney. A forerunner to the modern radiator, the stove had a unique design, resting in a trough of water that transmitted heat as it evaporated. The Gurney Stove heated over 10,000 churches, schools, and government buildings across the country including St. Paul’s Cathedral. There are still some working examples in cathedrals at Chester, Hereford and Tewkesbury.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring the Gurney Stove.


Highly Commended – Cornish Object of the Year Award



The Bethlehem Pasty – Museum of Cornish Life, Helston


The Bethlehem Pasty – located at the Museum of Cornish Life, Helston – was carved from stone by William (Bill) Jewell in Bethlehem in 1943, when he was feeling homesick for Cornwall during WWII. Bill kept his handmade memento throughout his life. Bill’s family chose to donate the pasty along with photos, medals, and archive documents to the museum to keep his story going.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring the Bethlehem Pasty.

Museum staff holding the Bethlehem Pasty and an old picture of the maker Mr Jewell


Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery – Cornish Global Migration Programme


The Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery – located at Cornish Global Migration Programme in Redruth – is a symbol of the ‘Great Cornish Diaspora’ where many Cornish men went to follow the lure of riches in gold rushes across the globe. Many sent home money made from their endeavours to support their extended families in Cornwall. The more successful migrants would send home artefacts such as jewellery.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring the Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery.



The Penzance Market Cross – Penlee House Gallery and Museum


The Penzance Market Cross is a treasure of the town. Over 1000 years old, standing 7ft tall and weighing almost a ton, it is carved from a single slab of local granite. It currently sits outside Penlee House Gallery and Museum, the latest of seven locations around the town. In earlier times, the cross had inscriptions on all four sides, but centuries of weathering and erosion mean that these designs are now hard to make out.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring the Penzance Market Cross.



St. Mary’s Church Clock Hand – Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe


The St. Mary’s Church Clock hand – located at The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol – is from one of only two single-handed clocks found in Cornwall. Dating from the 1700s, St Mary’s Church in East Looe is a well-known landmark just a few metres from the beach. The clock on the church tower was made by John Belling of Bodmin, whose family later went into making domestic goods such as the “Baby Belling” cooker.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring St. Marys Church Clock Hand.



‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ Hood Ornament and Mould – Wheal Martyn


This example of Rolls Royce’s automotive icon is located at Wheal Martyn Clay Works and represents the enduring relationship between Cornish clay and the aerospace industry. Developed in Cornwall in the 1930s, Molochite from which the mould is constructed, would become an important element in the casting of turbines blades for jet engines. Due to this Rolls Royce would become one of Cornwall’s china clay industry’s most prestigious customers.

Click here to watch the Cornish Object of the Year vlog featuring the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ Hood Ornament and Mould.


Audience Initiative Award 2019

In March, Cornwall Museums Partnership and South West Museum Development hosted the annual Cornwall Heritage Awards to celebrate and champion the amazing work that’s taking place across museums and heritage organisations in Cornwall.

This week we are showcasing the Audience Initiative Award category, which highlights successful projects that reach and attract new audiences for heritage.

Audience Initiative Award – Winner (Larger Organisation)
Royal Cornwall Museum: RCM x Truro Foodbank Pilot Scheme


Royal Cornwall Museum, winners of the Audience Initiative Award.


Following a conversation with a volunteer, Royal Cornwall Museum approached Truro Foodbank with the suggestion of including free-entry passes with food parcels over the summer holiday period. It was felt that those who might benefit most from the museum’s family-focused activities over the summer holidays were potentially being excluded by the entrance fee. The trial saw 80 passes handed out with a staggering 90% take-up rate, far surpassing expectations and delighting museum staff. The scheme gained local and national press coverage, leading to similar trials popping up across the UK.


A photograph of a foodbank and a culture pass from Royal Cornwall Museum


Audience Initiative Award – Winner (Smaller Organisation)
St. Cubert Church: Sacred Land, Saints and Sand


A photograph of St Cubert Church with their Audience Initiative Award.


Aiming to engage with new audiences who may not have visited before, St. Cubert Church ran a series of free workshops exploring some of the skills that feature in the church architecture, including stained glass and stone carving. The art workshops encouraged hands-on interaction with the heritage of the space, a chance to have some quiet time and to learn a new skill. Examples from the workshops also formed the basis of a handling box that was taken out for sessions in memory cafes and care homes, facilitating a church experience for those less able to access the space. The feedback from these sessions found that the participants enjoyed the interaction and generally felt happier afterwards.


Photograph of a person carving a pattern out of sandstone.


Audience Initiative Award – Highly Commended (Larger Organisations)


Cornwall's Regimental Museum and Museum of Cornish Life collecting their certificates.


Museum of Cornish Life, Helston: Can We Really Fit It In?


Spotting that the story of RNAS Culdrose in Helston was missing from the Museum of Cornish Life, a volunteer who also worked at the naval base, wondered if she could help fill that gap by creating a small display of archive material. After developing the relationship with RNAS Culdrose, the exhibition grew from a small display to a large temporary exhibition which included the tail-end of a Sea Hawk helicopter. The exhibition brought in a new audience to the museum, recognising the importance of the naval base to the history of Helston and Cornwall.


Screenshot of a helicopter tailwing being positioned in the Museum of Cornish Life, Helston.


Cornwall’s Regimental Museum: Fun Palaces Bodmin


In 2018, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum took part in the Fun Palaces campaign for cultural democracy. Fun Palaces are free events for everyone, encouraging everyone to be a scientist and everyone to be an artist. Working with six other organisations across Bodmin, they created a town-wide Fun Palace for a weekend packed full of action. It was the first time that the museum had got involved with activities that encouraged audiences to travel across the town. The pebble hunt was a real success and many visitors were arriving at the museum and asking for their stamp to show how many Fun Palaces across Bodmin they had visited. The Fun Palaces resulted in the largest number of visitors to the museum in a single day ever.


A photograph of a child and their grandfather at Fun Palaces in Bodmin.


Audience Initiative Award – Highly Commended (Smaller Organisations)


A photograph of the smaller organisations collecting their Audience Initiative Award certificates.


Fowey Museum: In Search of Tywardreath


Inspired by the memory of a local resident with a passion for heritage, Fowey Museum embarked on locating the site of an ancient Priory, situated somewhere in Tywardreath. What started with tea and chat sessions for older people, recording memories and oral histories, rapidly became more inclusive. A broader range of activities shared learning with the community and involved more people in the discovery of their heritage. Working with the Cornwall Archaeology Unit, the museum organised supervised community digs, test pits in private gardens, family open days with identification of finds, and staged exhibitions in community venues. The project reached over 800 people and provided a reason for many people who would normally be facing issues of rural isolation, to come together and make a meaningful contribution within their community.


A group of people excavating with Fowey Museum


Mevagissey Museum: Secondary School Collaboration


When contacted by a local secondary school student asking for support in his community work, Mevagissey Museum jumped at the chance of mentoring the student. The museum attended the school’s careers evening to promote the various roles and volunteering opportunities at the museum. They also showed a film of the Restoration of a Mevagissey Sunday School banner and the Walk With Me app, to highlight the fact that although the artefacts are old, the museum is in the 21st century. The project has helped build a relationship with the local secondary school, with the aim to inspire young people to become interested in heritage.


Bright Sparks Applications Now Open

Cornwall Museums Partnership and FEAST are challenging museums and artists to work together to generate original ideas for bringing more and different people into the museums of Cornwall to enjoy Cornwall’s unique heritage. For the third year, we are offering a joint small grants fund to enable the best ideas to be tested and delivered.

We are looking for genuine innovation and collaboration between the artist(s) and museum, and for ideas which would appeal to a broad range of the community. We are inviting proposals for creative projects which spark interest in what museums have to offer: we want more people interested in their heritage and more people doing or experiencing something creative.

We are offering a number of small grants of up to £2,500. The project must involve some form of tangible activity or event with which the community can get involved.

Applications must be made jointly by the artist(s) and museum. Ideas must be generated collaboratively and plans for delivery shared by both. We imagine that some of the strongest ideas may come from an artist working with their local museum, but are not making this an absolute condition. You choose whether it is the artist(s) or museum who is the grant recipient on behalf of the project.

Our criteria:

  • Quality and the ability to excite

We are looking only for work of a high professional standard that is fresh and inspiring

  • An innovative approach to involving as wide a range of people of all ages and backgrounds as possible

Show us how you plan to include people who normally assume arts and heritage activities are not for them

  • Imaginative ways of rewarding and enhancing the experience of museum volunteers

We want projects which ignite the enthusiasm of the volunteers and give them new ways to get involved

  • Value for money

We will take into account other match funding raised, but this can be in kind and will vary according to the scale of the project and amount requested. 

We will also be looking at the difference the project could make to the museum’s offer – the value added

  • Evidence of genuine collaboration between museum and artist

We want jointly developed proposals that draw on the strengths of both (Artists should not be used simply to deliver workshops devised by the museum and museums should not be used simply as a venue by the artist)

  • Legacy

We are looking for projects with a longer-term impact and which build skills, confidence and innovation within the museum and its volunteers. With the Digital Strand, we are looking for projects that take into account the use of the equipment past the end of the project.

Additional factors

  • In selecting projects we will be looking at the geographical spread of activity. This is obviously outside of your control, but please understand that this is a factor for us.
  • We will also be looking for projects of different scales. Don’t be afraid to apply for a few hundred pounds to make something small but perfectly formed happen in the museum!

For grants over £1,000, we will pay in 3 stages: 50% upfront, 40% on receipt of an interim report and the final 10% on receipt of a project evaluation (templates provided by us).

For grants under £1,000, we will pay 90% up front and 10% on receipt of evaluation.

Selection of successful projects will be made by a panel of FEAST and Cornwall Museum Partnership directors and a member of each organisation’ s board or advisory group.  The deadline for applications has been extended to 27th October 2019 and decisions will be announced shortly afterwards.

To apply, please download and complete the application form below.

For more information contact Tel: 01209500750 or Tel: 01209312502.

FEAST logo

Innovation Award 2019

In March, Cornwall Museums Partnership and SW Museum Development hosted the annual Cornwall Heritage Awards to celebrate and champion the amazing work that’s taking place across museums in Cornwall.

This week we are looking at the Innovation Award, which highlights projects or initiatives that have made an organisation more resilient.

We would like to thank PH Media for sponsoring this award.

PH Media logo


Innovation Award – Winner (Larger Organisation)
Wheal Martyn: Clay Stories


A photograph of Wheal Martyn, winners of the Innovation Award.


Every two months the staff pick at Wheal Martyn pick a theme to be represented across all aspects of the museum. These ‘Clay Stories’ are shared on social media, installations are shown in the atrium, and a range of themed children’s activities are created. A particularly successful theme was ‘The Kettle Kid’ over the summer in 2018. This theme included an interactive trail, children’s workshops, and a special Kettle Kid café menu. The different themes have proved very popular, gaining coverage from ITV News and BBC Radio Cornwall.



Innovation Award – Winner (Smaller Organisation)
Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe: Kids Take Over the Museum


Old Guildhall Museum, winners of the Innovation Award.


Last year, the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol in Looe took part in the national Kids in Museums’ Takeover Day. As part of the event, staff from the museum went to Looe Primary Academy to talk to pupils about how the museum is run. After researching their different jobs, the children then took on the roles of stewards, marketing, front of house, artists, managers, education officers, and curators for the day. The event was a big success. The museum volunteers have learned a lot about engaging with different audiences, and many of the children wanted to help at the museum again.


School children taking part in the Kids Takeover Day at the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe


Innovation Award – Highly Commended (Larger Organisations)


A photograph of Museum of Cornish Life and Cornwall's Regimental Museum, highly commended for the Innovation Award.


Cornwall’s Regimental Museum: Museum Late by the Young Curators


The Young Curators are a group of 16 – 18 year-olds who meet weekly at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum. As part of the Kids in Museums’ Takeover Day, they created, planned and delivered a Museum Late. With the theme ‘India: Empire and Influence’ they explored new ways of talking about the controversial subject of British rule in India. Creating an exhibition of previously unseen photographs from the collection, a series of talks examining the objects, and an escape room experience based on the Viceroy’s office.



Museum of Cornish Life, Helston: Becoming the Museum of Cornish Life


Staff, trustees, and volunteers were all involved in rebranding the museum to better reflect who they are, and what visitors will experience at the museum – a glimpse of social history and industrial life on the Lizard Peninsula. They now have a strong visual identity and a clear brand including a new website, leaflet, signage and a new set of photographic images.

Museum of Cornish Life logo


Innovation Award – Highly Commended (Smaller Organisations)


photograph of The Castle, Bude and Perranzabuloe Museum, highly commended for the Innovation Award


The Castle Heritage Centre, Bude: Temporary Exhibition Space for National Loans


A ‘Ready to Borrow’ grant enabled the Castle Heritage Centre in Bude to renovate an existing gallery to become a new temporary exhibition area. The renovation included new showcases, improved security, and temperature/humidity monitoring.  The museum is now able to showcase significant objects from major museums, with the aim of getting some of Bude’s important artefacts back to the town. The new temporary exhibition space has also increased the number of local visitors to the heritage centre.



Perranzabuloe Museum: ‘Memory and Now’ Perranzabuloe Scrapbook Project


Working with local artist Felicity Tattersall, Perranzabuloe Museum has built a new relationship with a local art and wellbeing group. Through workshops, they created artwork to go into a new scrapbook inspired by a historic 19th century scrapbook held in their collection. The scrapbook has opened up a different way of looking at history, focusing on the idea that ‘we are the history’. The scrapbook has some empty pages in the hope of further collaborations with other groups in the future.


Images from Perranzabuloe Museum's Memory and Now Scrapbook project.

Who’s in Charge? Collaborative Leadership and the Democratisation of Curation

Emmie Kell, CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership

Cornwall Museums Partnership is a charity which exists to help museums become more open and connected to the people they serve. And for them to do that, embracing new ways of working and investing time in creating the right organisational culture is really important.  We provide leadership for Cornwall’s museums; support them, represent them and give them a voice. We are a sector-leading infrastructure  charity which is not afraid to think differently. We invest in others and we try to help museums address the long term strategic issues that they have struggled to tackle on their own – things that are vital for the long term future of our distinctive heritage.

We are trying to effect some fundamental changes in the museums sector. But we don’t actually run any museums… and we are in a place where there are lots of museums (more than any comparable region in the UK), all independent, and independently minded and I think we are born with a healthy disrespect for authority in Cornwall.  So how do we get anything done?

I’m trying to influence ‘beyond authority’ I can’t make anyone do anything – the whole ethos behind CMP is that the power lies in the team. That is the reason for our being. Back in 2011/12 museums in Cornwall were experiencing something of a crisis. Well two of them were, and had publicly communicated their financial difficulties. And a widespread lack of resources, coupled with long term under-investment in the sector, rurally dispersed organisations, working in isolated ways meant that many organisations were becoming less not more resilient. They did not have the skills, capacity or resources to move forward.  It was clear that the opportunity to share skills across a diverse and dispersed network comprising 70 museums, was one that needed to be explored and this was the catalyst for a group of four museums to experiment with collaborative working – which ultimately led to the formation of Cornwall Museums Partnership.

We realised that through collaboration we could make scarce resources go further, and that partnerships could offer much needed learning opportunities and peer support.

We wanted to find a way to harness the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders, including the communities which museums exist to serve – to innovate and succeed. Working in a more collaborative way offered a way to do this. So we set about testing the opportunities arising from collaborative working – initially with a small group and within 5 years with a network of 70.

We think that the fast changing environment in which we work, financial uncertainty, changing expectations of society mean that museums need a new kind of leadership. One which maximises the power of networks. Collaborative leadership which is where ‘leaders to use the power of influence rather than positional authority to engage and align people, focus their teams, sustain momentum, and perform. Success depends on creating an environment of trust, mutual respect, and shared aspiration in which all can contribute fully and openly to achieving collective goals. Leaders must thus focus on relationships as well as results, and the medium through which they operate is high-quality conversation.’ This definition felt (and still feels) really relevant for our situation.

So this is what we have tried to do. We have recruited people to our values and placed a strong emphasis on collaboration. We have facilitated a range of networks across museums, co-designed programmes with museums and supported museums to embrace co-design with their audiences. Our model recognises that expertise lies across organisations and we try to create opportunities to share and amplify best practice at what ever ‘level’ it is found in an organisation. Our approach is echoed by a report published last year by Arts Council England and Kings College called ‘Changing cultures Transforming leadership in the arts, museums and libraries’(Sept 2018) which identifies that ‘leadership in museums in no longer a question of focussing on the people at the top. It’s about creating opportunities for individuals to lead at all levels.’ For example Marina who works as a cleaner at Wheal Martyn Museum in Cornwall created a memory café and spoke at our annual conference last year.

Museums need to engage employees more fully at every level to improve efficiencies, increase agility, understand the  needs of the communities we exist to serve, and innovate. Teams need to draw on diverse perspectives from both within and outside their organisations to solve problems and identify opportunities, especially when familiar ways of working no longer apply. 

So what have I learned about collaborative leadership over the last 3 years:

Number 1:

Recruit to your values – we are collaborative and we stress that in our recruitment. It is still a relatively new approach for some people, who come with expectations about command and control, the default model is still hierarchical and to quote the Changing Culture report ‘ the art world enjoys celebrating and romanticising its leaders’. We want people who can be open and flexible and responsive because we know that collaboration is highly correlated with market performance. Collaboration creates an inclusive environment which allows individuals to be more creative and innovative.

Number 2:

You need to establish a shared sense of purpose – the difference between productive and unproductive collaboration is sense of purpose. For every initiative we clearly establish and reiterate its core purpose.

Number 3:

Creating a culture of trust is a core feature of collaborative leadership – to be trusted we must prove our ability to deliver, communicate our impact and  trust our team and invest in them. We’ve invested in facilitation and coaching training for all members of our team. We are clear about our values and the behaviours that arise from them – this provides clarity and direction and helps us to do things consistently which builds trust.

Cultural organisations and I’d say specifically museums are agents of empathy – they are all about creating experiences which help people develop their empathy muscle – by experiencing what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. A high degree of emotional intelligence is what marks out the people who thrive in a collaborative environment. We need to listen and communicate effectively, care about what our customers and stakeholders think. If you care about maximising your public benefit you have to be genuinely interested in what people think – you have to create a reflective culture.

Number 4:

Small organisations are better at it – the brand can get in the way with larger organisations. The requirement of smaller organisations to be especially resourceful seems to result in them being more receptive to partnership working.

Number 5:

I’m learning that acting in a genuinely collaborative way, takes time, negotiation, persistence, patience and relentless positivity. It can be exhausting and lead to overload and burnout. You need to look after yourself and the wellbeing of your team. Something we are trying to get better at, at Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Number 6:

You cannot over communicate – that doesn’t mean just being stuck on transmit mode – it means an equal share of listening.

I will conclude this this quote from David Jubb – ex Director of Battersea Arts Centre in London:

‘Changing the way we work helps us increase our impact. For too long we have focussed on the ‘what’ and not the ‘how’ and this has led to museums which neither represent nor serve the communities for whom they are supposed to exist. We need to think about talent and diversity differently. Museums cannot be relevant without diverse leadership. A truly collaborative approach can help us achieve this.’

Dr Tehmina Goskar, Director of the Curatorial Research Centre shares an example of this in practice from the flagship programme she has developed in partnership with us at Cornwall Museums Partnership

To support our philosophy of collaborative leadership and to encourage a radical shift in power relations in Cornish museums, we have originated the Citizen Curators Programme—a work-based curatorial training and museum awareness course for volunteers from our communities. This experiential learning programme has been designed to support the democratisation of museum decision-making and to open up the knowledge locked in our collections. Our paper will share results of the research carried out through the pilot programme in 2017/18 and share work in progress on the full 3-year programme. We will illustrate our findings against the context of Cornish identity and distinctiveness as our Citizen Curators will be leading the curation of the Cornish National Collection—a distributed collection of artefacts and memories that reflects the diversity of Cornish society past and present.

I am a curator, facilitator and historian of material culture. I think well-functioning museums are critical indicators of a civil society. Cultural democracy, the civic agenda, co-curation, co-production, co-creation are themes which are regularly discussed at professional cultural events. We are diving into these complex ideas before facing what we really need to be talking about. We should be discussing permission, trust and control in our organisations. Who is involved in decision-making, and why? Who isn’t invited to the table? “What does it really mean to give authority over museum content to the citizen?”

In our rural and Cornish context, time and cost of travel is our biggest barrier to cultural opportunity and this is amplified when you look at routes to working or volunteering in the museum sector. We describe Citizen Curators as an introductory work-based curatorial and museum awareness course for volunteers in our communities. It is the most wide-ranging curatorial training programme of its kind currently underway in the UK and relies on being collaborative in its structure. At the Curatorial Research Centre all of our educational work is led by research and evidence. By June 2021 Citizen Curators will have produced not only 100 trained volunteers and directly involve 30 staff, apprentices and interns, the programme will also produce a major body of quantitative and qualitative data that will make a significant contribution to museum and curatorial pedagogy. Power model of museums. Museums need to understand where their power lies and then learn how to share their power more widely. I developed this model of museum power based on an inverted pyramid.

Developing the 50% model of a curator – part knowledge creator, part communicator. The Citizen Curators will develop a set of competencies around 5 areas of skill and awareness. They will increase their confidence in using their new-found knowledge to challenge established ways of doing things in their museums. The only prerequisites to joining the course are high motivation, demonstrable curiosity, open to new ideas, and able to commit time. Citizen Curators activity sits right in the middle of traditional categories of museum roles. Each group is asked to produce two collections-based interventions, one digital, one museum-based.

The core syllabus for the full programme is based on five themes: collections, research, communication, communities and interpretation. Each core session comprises a half-day workshop and a mini-challenge which reinforces their learning through gallery-based group work. Throughout, there is a mixture of group activities and individual work. While in the museum they learn from real life scenarios, such as observing art hangs, undertaking condition reports or writing for websites. Optional masterclasses and field trips have included citizen science, conservation subject specialist museums, exhibition critique, museum ethics and taking part in national consultations on museum issues. The whole programme is designed to be flexible around the busy lives of volunteers most of whom are working or studying alongside.

The pilot took place at Royal Cornwall Museum October 2017-March 2018. Most recruits were under 26 – the target age group for the pilot. These pilot Citizen Curators developed projects based around the museum’s Chinese collections and fine art collections. One was a reinterpretation project to begin to decolonise those collections; the other took place on Instagram on the theme of Hireth – examining people’s feelings of Cornish identity.

Participant satisfaction in the pilot was high. This was monitored through qualitative feedback and a formal exit questionnaire. We can also quantify the impact. Participants are asked to rate their confidence levels in 11 key areas relating to our competency model at the start of the programme and then again at the end. We also collected feedback from museum colleagues. The main criticism of the pilot programme was that integration with the wider museum team could have been better (this led us to establish mentoring). There were some practical issues related to space, use of desks, access to stores and computers. Some ideological opposition suggested that the participants should not be permitted to use a title with ‘curator’ in it. Positive feedback included how the programme had helped to raise the profile of the museum in new places. Citizen Curators were chosen as a key stop on a tour by Prince Charles (Duke of Cornwall).



In year 1, the whole programme was over-subscribed with 3x more expressions of interest. All places were filled. Our target for retention is 70%. We have retained 71%. A major cause for lower numbers was the temporary withdrawal of one museum from the programme because of logistical problems that they could not overcome. Three of the seven museums have retained their full groups. Drop out has mainly been caused by change of personal circumstances or health reasons. Other causes have included lack of satisfaction in the museum volunteering experience—although participants have been reluctant to give their reasons on the record. Attendance has met or exceeded our targets, particularly in the core programme. The number of non-Citizen Curators interested in participating in the workshops have exceeded our expectations –staff, apprentices and interns—these are other pathways CMP is investing in and promoting.


This cohort together with the pilot group and year 2 and 3 will be invited to set the criteria for the Cornish National Collection. The brief is to designate a distributed collection that must represent the diversity of Cornish Society past and present. This is a strategic priority of Cornwall Museums Strategy. It is in direct response to the recognition of the Cornish as a national minority in 2014 by the UK Government under Council of Europe Framework Convention. After 29 April – Year 1 Evaluation Day – we will collate our data and analyses and reflect on their individual and group journeys. Interim feedback has been constant. The importance of consistently keeping communication channels open and asking probing questions is critical in a process like this. What questions would you ask? What questions would you like answered?

This is a blog post based on the presentation that Emmie Kell and Dr Tehmina Goskar delivered at the ‘Museums as Agents of Memory and Change’ Conference in Tallinn, Estonia, earlier this year. 

Environmentally Responsible Award 2019

In March, Cornwall Museums Partnership and SW Museum Development hosted the annual Cornwall Heritage Awards to celebrate and champion the amazing work that’s taking place across museums in Cornwall.

This week we are shining a light on a new category for the 2019 awards. The Environmentally Responsible Award highlights projects or initiatives that have made an organization more sustainable or environmentally responsible.

We would like to thank Tevi Cornwall for sponsoring this award.

Environmentally Responsible Award – Winner (Larger Organisation)
National Trust Godolphin: Energy reduction at Godolphin Count House


The National Trust facilities team has taken on a series of measures to reduce the energy consumption of Godolphin Count House. The building’s lighting has been switched to LED bulbs and motion sensor light switches installed in the bathrooms. The main achievement in reducing energy consumption was replacing the two oil boilers, which together used over 8000 litres of oil a year, with one biomass pellet boiler, which now supplies hot water and heating to the whole building. This has all contributed to Godolphin House reducing its energy consumption from 54,806 KWh to under 11 KWh per year, saving money and allowing the National Trust to invest more into their conservation work.


Environmentally Responsible Award – Winner (Smaller Organisation)
Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum: Plastics in the Ocean


A photograph of Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum, winners of the Environmentally Responsible Award.

Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum has worked with various local partners to promote greater awareness of plastic waste in the town, and the danger of plastics in the oceans. The museum’s partnership with Fistral Beach Cleaning Group provided material for the mobile Vintage Beach Rubbish display, which portrays the striking messages about the longevity of plastics and other packaging along the beaches. Items shown in the display include crisp packets that are over 30 years old! The displays have reached over 5000 people, encouraging many people to reduce their own plastic consumption.


Environmentally Responsible Award – Highly Commended (Larger Organisations)


A photograph of Museum of Cornish LIfe, Helston and Telegraph Museum Porthcurno highly commended in the Environmentally Responsible Award.


Telegraph Museum Porthcurno: Planet PK


The Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is embedding ‘global citizen’ ideals into the core values of the organization. Under the initiative PlanetPK the museum is working on a number of projects with the National Trust and Cornwall New Energy. To show that everyone within the organisation is committed to improving their environmental responsibility, the museum director is training as a Marine Mammal Medic and their gardener Paddy has offered his expertise in installing and managing several bee hives, which staff members have volunteered to maintain.


Museum of Cornish Life, Helston: Evergreen Maintenance


Over the summer months and into winter 2018, two dedicated volunteers from the Museum of Cornish Life, Helston carried out visual inspections of the museum’s 50 plus windows. They found that some of the windows were in a bad state and embarked on repairing, sealing, and painting all the doors and windows at the museum. Their work has extended the life of the windows saving them from landfill, as well as improving the look of the museum building.



Environmentally Responsible Award – Highly Commended (Smaller Organisations)


A photograph of staff from The Castle, Bude and The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe.


Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe


A change in volunteers at the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol, Looe created the desire for the museum to be more integrated into the Looe community, and take a more environmentally responsible position. The museum decided to write an Environmental Policy to guide their decision making, they have started their long-term commitment by installing LED lighting, increasing recycling, and finding environmentally friendly suppliers. UV film has also been installed in some of the windows reducing the need for heating and allowing some of the older paintings and artefacts to be on show again in the museum.



The Castle Heritage Centre, Bude: Making Café Limelight More Environmentally Sustainable


The Limelight Café at The Castle Heritage Centre has introduced multiple initiatives to support the Greener Bude campaign, to make Bude the greenest town in the UK. The café has eradicated single-use plastics, offers free refills of tap water, a discount if visitors are using their own reusable takeaway cup, and is focusing on finding more local food suppliers to cut down on food miles.

Spotlight on: Citizen Curators at Wheal Martyn

In this blog we catch up with the Citizen Curator team at Wheal Martyn Clay Works about their experiences of the Citizen Curator programme and their new free exhibition ‘Engineering the Earth’.

The exhibition has been put together by Wheal Martyn’s three volunteer Citizen Curators: Carol Weir, Simon Dunham and Imogen Law, who have been mentored by Nikita Brown Wheal Martyn’s Exhibitions and Engagement Officer. Their showcase investigates the role of science and engineering in the china clay industry, particularly looking at the paper-making industry, the use of kaolin (a type of clay found near St. Austell) in cosmetics, and a local engineer – topics which represent the breadth and depth of this vast theme.

The Citizen Curators are encouraging visitors to get involved with the exhibition by guessing the items in the mystery cabinet, sharing knowledge of paper-making industry workers in Cornwall, and checking the ingredients on their cosmetics to see if they contain kaolin, even experts might learn something new!

One of the exhibition cabinets showcasing the paper-making industry.

The Citizen Curator group says, “We hope this exhibition inspires you to also take an interest in museum collections and perhaps volunteer for the next Citizen Curators course.”

Wheal Martyn is one of seven museums across Cornwall participating in the Citizen Curators programme. This programme aims to encourage a more active interest in the collections cared for on behalf of the public and involve people from the local community. The three-year project, led by Dr Tehmina Goskar of the Curatorial Research Centre, is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, administered by the Museums Association, and is part of Wheal Martyn’s Arts Council England supported partnership programme led by Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Tehmina says, “Citizen Curators is all about unearthing the hidden joys of our historical collections so that more people can learn something new from them. That’s exactly what the Wheal Martyn team are doing through their research and this exhibition. We feel very privileged to have supported their journey.”


Some of the photographs in the Wheal Martyn collection about the local engineers.

The Citizen Curators say, “We have enjoyed the opportunity Wheal Martyn and the Citizen Curators project have given us, from exploring the other museums and galleries of Cornwall to the discussions and activities we worked on in the classes. Our volunteering has not only given us a glimpse behind the scenes of Wheal Martyn and its dedicated staff but also taught us much about the local area.”

A showcase about the use of kaolin clay (found locally in St. Austell) in the cosmetic industry.

‘Engineering the Earth’ runs from 6th April – 11th October in Wheal Martyn’s Atrium. Find out more about the exhibition and get updates on Wheal Martyn’s social media: Facebook @whealmartyncw, Twitter @WhealMartyn, and Instagram @whealmartyn. If you have any information on the objects in the exhibition you can join in on social media using the hashtags #citizencurators #stawesome #whealmartyn. You can also follow the Curatorial Research Centre on Twitter @CuratorialRC.

Best Project on a Budget 2019

In March, Cornwall Museums Partnership and South West Museum Development hosted the annual Cornwall Heritage Awards to celebrate and champion the amazing work that is taking place across museums in Cornwall.

This week we are focusing on the Best Project on a Budget, which highlights projects that have been achieved for less than £500.

Best Project on a Budget  – Winner
Saltash Heritage: Volunteers are the Lifeblood of our Museum.


Wishing to celebrate the dedication and commitment of their 48 volunteers, Saltash Heritage has sought to enhance their volunteers experiences through setting up training sessions, talks, and an annual awards ceremony. In the light-hearted awards ceremony, the achievements of the volunteers were recognised with bronze stars they could wear on their lanyards, these included awards such as ‘Museum Squatter’ for the volunteer with the most amount of hours and ‘The One to Always Leap Out of His Chair’.



Best Project on a Budget – Highly Commended



Lostwithiel Museum: Creating a Corporate Identity.


In February 2018, Lostwithiel Museum launched a whole new corporate identity featuring a new logo and corporate look for all communications including print, signage, and digital output. The new look has allowed the museum to strengthen its brand awareness, providing a cohesive appearance for visitors and allowing the museum to raise its profile. With the new signs, visitors on arrival to the town are able to instantly recognise the museum, that the museum is open, and that admission is free. Since the introduction of the branding, visitor numbers have increased by 60%.

Highly Commended – Bodmin Town Museum: Space Creation/Conservation


Through converting a small hidden cupboard into a new hanging storage facility Bodmin Town Museum have improved the conservation of their costume collection. As part of the process of creating the new storage space, each costume item was recorded, catalogued and photographed. The project has allowed the team at the museum to learn more about their costume collection, enabling them to display items and create better access to the collection in future.