Explore Cornwall’s Audio Archives from the Comfort of Your Own Home

PRESS RELEASE

A grey Amazon Alexa smart speaker on a white table.

A new and innovative way to explore the oral histories and audio archives of Cornwall’s museums and archives has just launchedCornish Tales enables users to travel through time and the Duchy, listening to stories from the archives of St Ives Archive, PK Porthcurno, Kresen Kernow, and the Cornish Music Archive. 

Launched by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with Hi9, this brand-new immersive experience pushes the boundaries of smart speaker technology and enables global access to oral histories, music, and recordings – previously unavailable online. This is the first time a collaboration of cultural organisations has enabled access to audio resources in such an innovative way – and really is at the forefront of the use of this type of technology anywhere in the UK. 

These stories have been curated into a new immersive and interactive narrative where users will visit ‘Memory Lane Tavern’ to hear songs, head to the bus stop for a journey through time to Porthcurno, St Ives, or Redruth, or jump to specific audio clips that they would like to hear. Over 500 variations of the experience are available, which means users can have a different experience every time or revisit their favourite parts.  

Users will be able to navigate through the experience using just their voice – meaning that the experience has been designed to be as accessible as possible. Hi9’s philosophy is that their technology should be able to be used intuitively by everyone – from aged 4 to 84. The experience is also being trialled by care homes across Cornwall, in partnership with EPIC Health – a project led by the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology which has provided over 150 Amazon Echo smart speakers for care homes in Cornwall. The hope is that in future, these experiences can be used by care providers to support with reminiscence work. 

This highly experimental and innovative research project has been funded by the Museums Association’s Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund and The Space. 

Amy Shakespeare, Innovation Manager at Cornwall Museums Partnership says, “It’s really brilliant to be able to cast a light on these amazing audio archives that have previously been difficult to access. We asked ourselves tough questions about why we collect these archives if nobody can access them easily, and what could be done about it. Working collaboratively with the museum and archives, as well as our tech partner Hi9, we’ve been able to solve some of these problems and show Cornwall is leading the way with this technology that is rapidly becoming a part of many homes. On top of this, we’ve been able to work with EPIC Health and care homes to show the potential wellbeing benefits that utilising museum collections in this way can have. 

Wo King, CEO and Founder at Hi9 says, “I believe that we are going through cultural isolation in Cornwall and with the rest of the world. This summer the rest of the UK is coming back to see us but most of the world will not. This gives us a chance to share the Cornish culture with the rest of the world from the comfort of the chair using an Alexa device and with people isolated in care homes. Connecting the rich stories, voices, songs and history back to people desperate to hear it. Using AI in this way and working with CMP has been a joy for us to contribute” 

Users in the UK, Ireland, US, Vietnam, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia can now access the Cornish Tales, from the comfort of your own home, using a smart speaker or smart phone, by downloading the Amazon Alexa app. On the app click ‘more’, then ‘skills and games’ and search for Cornish Tales. Once you’ve enabled Cornish Tales, simply say ‘Alexa, open Cornish Tales’ whenever you want to start the experience. 


 

For more information, please get in touch with Amy Shakespeare on amy@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk or 01209 500750. 

 

Notes to Editor 

About CMP: 

Cornwall Museums Partnership is an independent charitable incorporated organisation, formed in 2015 to provide leadership for Cornwall’s museums; to support them, represent them and give them a voice. We are a sector-leading charity which is not afraid to think differently. Our values of collaboration, inclusivity and innovation inform everything we do. 

Our ambition is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a pioneering model of collaborative leadership which promotes innovation and resilience in the museums’ sector and beyond. We want to shift the dial in terms of the impact and value museums create. By working in partnership with museums, we want to help them to use their collections effectively to foster happy, healthy and prosperous communities where heritage is valued and celebrated. Cornwall Museums Partnership, Studio 101, Krowji, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 3GE 

 www.cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk  

Cornwall Museums Partnership receives core funding from Cornwall Council and Arts Council England. 

 

About Kresen Kernow 

The Archives and Cornish Studies Service is Cornwall’s Accredited archive service and our team of staff and volunteers deliver statutory, community and heritage outcomes.  In 2019 we moved to Kresen Kernow, Redruth, which is now home to over 1.5 million books and archives, dating from 1150 to the present day.  We provide specialist public services, including providing access to archives and published material, caring for the collections, supporting other archive holders, and delivering an exhibition and engagement programme. We acquire collections that represent a diverse range of individuals, organisations and events connected to Cornwall, and believe they are a rich source of inspiration for learning, skills and creativity. Through the facilities at Kresen Kernow, our digital platforms, partnerships and programmes, we aim to make a difference to people and our community.  We are funded by Cornwall Council and our current programmes are supported by a generous five-year NLHF grant. 

www.kresenkernow.org 

 

About PK Porthcurno 

The coastal village of Porthcurno, located in West Cornwall, was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, PK Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction that comprises of World War II tunnels, the secret hub of Britain’s wartime communications; the Cable Hut where Britain’s network of undersea telecommunication cables came ashore; exhibitions and interactive displays telling the amazing story of global telecommunications, from the first practical use of electricity to how we communicate today using fibre optic cables that still run beneath the world’s seas and oceans.  

www.pkporthcurno.com 

 

About St Ives Archive 

St Ives Archive is a registered charity whose aim is to develop and maintain a local historical archive for the benefit and use of the public, covering all aspects of the history, geography, natural history, the arts, architecture and the inhabitants of the parishes of St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant, Halsetown and Towednack in the county of Cornwall. We began in 1996 and continue as a community activity staffed by volunteers and funded through grants from local businesses, membership, sales of publications and donations. We have collected information on every aspect of the town’s unique history, its people and neighbouring parishes. We have volunteers who have special areas of expertise. They can help with research, whether it’s a simple query or a detailed research project. 

Contact: admin@stivesarchive.org. View: www.stivesarchive.org  

 

A Day in the Life: Maisy-Sky, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House

Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day in the Life…’ which features individuals working at CMP and our partner museums and what they get up to on a typical day at work.

Next up is Maisy-Sky, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum. Maisy-Sky is working full time on various marketing tasks, as well as working towards a Level 4 Apprenticeship and Diploma.

Read on for more on how Maisy-Sky spends her time at Penlee House…

A selfie of a young woman with long wavy brown hair and sunglasses.

Hello, my name is Maisy-Sky and I am the Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance. I joined Penlee House in July 2019 and spent 18 months working as a Digital Marketing Apprentice. I’ve recently just started a new role as a Marketing Executive Apprentice and I’m excited to start this new adventure at Penlee House. My daily tasks as a Digital Marketing Apprentice were quite varied, from creating engaging marketing ideas, content, and digital media, evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns to identifying customer trends and new marketing opportunities.

Every day is a bit different but I always start my day by checking my emails and Penlee House’s social media. A lot can happen overnight, new trends, new followers, messages and comments to name a few, so I always check what’s happened and make a list of comments and messages to reply to. If I’ve seen any new trends or events happening on social media that day that I think Penlee House should join in with I’ll run some ideas past my line manager and director to get their opinions.

A big part of my job at the moment is running Penlee Inspired Online and the Penlee Inspired Challenges. During lockdown we invited the public to get creative at home using the collections at Penlee House as inspiration as part of our first online exhibition Penlee Inspired Online. Penlee Inspired Online is a testament to the skill and passion for art and creativity in our local community. Although Penlee has gained a national reputation for Cornish art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, this unique online exhibition showcases works inspired by the collections and exhibitions at Penlee House Gallery & Museum. As I am the only person running both these events I spent a lot of time each week choosing a different painting or object to share, monitoring the entries, and then contacting them to get permission to share their work online on our website and social media. I enjoy running Penlee Inspired Online and the Penlee Inspired Challenges as I love to see how the collection inspires others.

A paper creation of two figures in a sail boat.

Recently I have been spending more time trying to build Penlee House’s presence on Twitter. One day I found a trend going around called ‘Museum Snap’ I thought it sounded interesting and after falling down a Twitter rabbit hole I found this amazing Museum and Heritage Twitter World. After spending a bit of time trying to figure out how the snap game worked and how we could join, I spent the next week keeping an eye out for ‘Museum Snap’ trending on Twitter. Each week one museum selects a painting or object from their collection and other museums can submit a similar item from their collection or something completely different but matches the theme. For example, the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre shared a police uniform with the theme costumes, uniforms, or clothes. In response, I created a Twitter Thread about the Crysede clothing collection at Penlee House which won that round of Museum Snap. The following week we got to host a round of Museum Snap and choose the item, theme, and winner. From joining in with these Museum Snaps we have made new connections with other museums in the country and regularly communicate with them.

After joining in with the ‘Museum Snap’ games we were asked to represent Cornwall in the National Oddity Championship 2021 which is run by Egham Museum. The National Oddity Championship involved 18 heritage organisations from across the country who submitted their oddest item, and Egham Museum put them head-to-head in a series of Twitter Polls. We chose a Bottle of Train (Pilchard) Oil as our oddity. Pilchards were bulked with salt for a month, washed, put in straight-sided barrels, and pressed. The resulting ‘Train’ Oil was collected in a pit and sold to cities for street lighting. Our bottle of Pilchard oil made it to the quarter-finals of the National Oddity Championship 2021 narrowly missing out in a place in the semi-finals (clearly I’m still not over it).

A pen drawing and watercolour piece of a green vase full of colourful flowers.

Working from home has its positives and negatives! Working in the gallery meant I could talk to people face to face and not over Zoom, during my screen breaks I could walk around the galleries and appreciate the amazing artworks by the Newlyn School artists, and in my lunch break I could walk around the surrounding park. Working from home has had positives though, if the gallery wasn’t closed I wouldn’t have ran Penlee Inspired Online or the Penlee Inspired Challenges or taken part in online events and made connections with other museums and galleries. I’m really excited about Penlee House reopening (hopefully on May 17) and finally being able to see the exhibition Laura Knight: A Celebration. This last year has taught me to take time for myself when I need it and in the words of Paddington Bear “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.”

– Maisy-Sky Lumbers, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum

A Day in the Life: Tamsin Chaffin, Trainee Curator at the Museum of Cornish Life

Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day In The Life…’ which features individual working across CMP and our partner museums and what they get up to on a typical day at work.

Next up is Tamsin Chaffin, who recently joined the 2021 Trainee Curator programme with a position at the Museum of Cornish Life. Read on to hear about how Tamsin spends her time at the Museum of Cornish Life…

A selfie of a young woman with glasses, short brown curly hair and a cream jumper.

Starting my role as Trainee Curator in January 2021 meant starting a new job in lockdown. I was initially apprehensive about this and there were some challenges – adjusting to working from home and meeting new people over Zoom were both tricky. However, I quickly found there were some advantages (remembering lots of new names is much easier when they come up on the bottom of a screen!) Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as the teams across the Museum of Cornish Life and Cornwall Museums Partnership have been incredibly supportive and immediately made me feel welcome.

As a Trainee Curator, my role involves supporting the museum team across a wide range of projects. I joined the museum with a particular interest in exhibitions and have been able to do this digitally, helping to put together an online exhibition about Wendron Leats and Helston Kennels, as well as being involved in planning upcoming exhibitions to be held in the museum. In addition to this, in a few short months I’ve installed a pop-up QR Costume Trail in Coronation Park for Animate Helston, had lots of fun presenting and filming Museum Makes videos for our social media channels, and recently spent an afternoon setting up pest monitoring traps in the museum as part of the Pest Partners programme. No two days are the same and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in to such a variety of tasks – although as I’m not a fan of creepy-crawlies I’m less looking forward to checking those pest traps in a month’s time!

A young woman wearing a mask sits as a wooden desk before a computer.

A young woman wearing a mask and gloves kneels before an old hearth, cleaning.

A key highlight of the traineeship so far came in March when the opportunity arose to bring my personal interests into my museum work. Anyone who knows me knows I can talk about cricket until the cows come home, and in a Collection Tour video about our cricket photographs I did just that! After finding some cricket related photographs in our archive I researched their stories and presented what I found in a live Collection Tour on Facebook. I particularly loved drawing out stories about women’s cricket in Cornwall. We have a photograph of the Porthleven Ladies’ team from 1949 on display in the museum, and digging into the Women’s Cricket Association archive I was able to connect this team to results from matches in 1950 and 1951 when they played Penzance Ladies’ Cricket Club.  I was incredibly excited to connect these dots and add to our knowledge of these local teams. As the subject is so close to my heart, I was overjoyed to hear responses from people who thought they didn’t like cricket but found something interesting in my tour and I feel encouraged to continue researching and communicating hidden histories in my museum career.

A historic photograph showing a team of young women - Porthleven Ladies’ cricket team from 1949

Overall, I feel privileged to have been involved in so many great projects in such a small amount of time and am hugely excited for what the rest of the traineeship brings. A main lesson I have learnt so far is that while the museum may be closed, that doesn’t mean that the work stops. I have been inspired by the commitment and creativity of the Museum of Cornish Life team to find ways to share stories and connect with people while the doors have been closed.

As we are planning to reopen in May, I’m looking forward to seeing the site in all its glory. I can’t wait to work alongside volunteers, meet visitors and finally see the museum without the objects covered up with dust sheets. Hopefully, as things improve, I’d also love to meet face-to-face with my fellow trainee curators, see the work that they have done with their organisations and perhaps take a better group photo for our twitter profile!

 

– Tamsin Chaffin, Trainee Curator at the Museum of Cornish Life