Fun Palaces 2019

October is not only the beginning of autumn, it’s also the month where for two days, communities and culture come together in a blur of creativity. Fun Palaces is an annual free weekend and campaign which ‘promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture’. Using a combination of arts, craft, science, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities, Fun Palaces is led by local people for local people, giving the opportunity for skills and passions to be shared across the community. Fun Palaces really is a weekend to celebrate cultural democracy.

An abundance of workshops were held across the first weekend of October, including many of the museums in Cornwall who took part in this fantastic campaign. Carry on reading to hear from 7 Cornish museums on their Fun Palace experiences.

Museum of Cornish Life – Helston

Museum of Cornish Life Fun Palaces

Museum of Cornish Life decided upon a Space Art theme where the 1st Landewednack Brownies came to the museum and explored their new exhibition; Lizard Point Residency. Isobel King, Community Engagement Curator for Museum of Cornish life said how, ‘the exhibition celebrates the work created this year at the Lizard Point Residency, as part of a summer of celebration focussed around Goonhilly Earth Station. The Brownies explored the art works and then set about making their own art using the theme of space as their inspiration.

‘Some of the Brownies worked in teams to recycle cardboard to make two giant rockets which they named The Brownie 1000; others made their own spaceships, pictures of galaxies far away and pictures of what life from another planet would look like.’

If you would like to see the art work from this Fun Palaces weekend, the rockets will be on display at the museum as part of the exhibition until the end of the month.

Penlee House and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Telegraph Museum Porthcurno and Whole Again Communities worked in partnership with Treneere Team Spirit to deliver the Treneere Fun Palace at the Lescudjack Centre in Penzance.

The Fun Palace was created by the Treneere Team Spirit community group, where they had 65 participants take part from the local community.

Penlee House Gallery returned to the event this year, building on their brilliant previous partnership work with Treneere Team Spirit, and delivered a wonderful ‘Collage on Canvas’ hands on activity.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno hosted ‘I spy treasures’ and ‘Circus skills’ which included cracking a code on pirate doubloons in a sandy treasure chest, juggling with devil sticks and plate spinning! Families were given a ‘I’m a PK star’ sticker and/or a pirate temporary tattoo after taking part.

Kay Dalton of Porthcurno Telegraph Museum said, ‘it was great for us as an organisation to be able to be a part of Fun Palaces for the first time. There was a lot to do and the weekend brought together the communities and really showed off what Fun Palaces is all about.’

‘Great partnership working!’  Treneere Team Spirit.

‘The whole event had such a buzzing, lovely vibe!’  Penlee House Gallery.

‘Children came back to redo our activities again and again, it was great to see how much time they spent having fun together.’  Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

Wheal Martyn

Wheal Martyn Fun Palaces

Wheal Martyn’s Fun Palace event went incredibly well, with approximately 60 people attending, all of which were families. They had 7 Makers plus Gemma Martin, Education Officer of Wheal Martyn museum, running the activities all day.

There was a wonderful selection of activities on offer, including:

  • Zenology Doodling with Laura Martin from their regular Social Prescribing Arts and Crafts Group
  • Paper Journal Making with Ruth Hills
  • Clay Fun Palace Models with Lynne Simms and Suzy Johnson
  • Story Collections and porcelain figures for the Bucawdden Project and, with Zenna Tagney
  • Planting and gardening workshops with Tam Pemberton from Perennial Harvest
  • Great Biscuit Show Stopper biscuit decorating with Gemma Martin, Wheal Martyn

A great time was had and plenty of lovely feedback with one attendee saying, ‘a lovely idea, my two loved all the different things to do and enjoyed the clay making and biscuit decorating. We’ll be back for more Fun days like this!’ Another person loved it so much that they already can’t wait for the next one, ‘lovely idea, so much to do, friendly atmosphere, something for everyone.  Please do another one soon!’

Falmouth Art Gallery and Library

Fun Palace in Falmouth Art Gallery was a collection of different experiences, run for the Community by Community groups. If you felt creative you could create poems with the Write Café, make your own woolly planet with Cornwool, try a Camel costume from Miracle Theatre, join the Global Cardboard challenge with the engineers from the University of Exeter or the LEGO club in the library, drawing in VR with INTERANIMA, make your own electronic textile bracelets with Touch Craft or have a go at weaving.

If music is your thing, you were able to play bells with Perran Rebells, improvise a song with SING! Choir or create electronic instruments with CO:NOISE project. You could relax in their boardgames café with cakes, tea and coffee from Falmouth Fairtrade. Source FM Community radio was also there interviewing all the community groups involved. It was a great day and one they can’t wait to repeat soon!

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum – Bodmin Keep

At Bodmin Keep, the theme was ‘Building, Making, Playing’, a theme that extended across the whole town, with 8 Fun Palace sites and one roaming Fun Palace. At the Keep, 12 makers produced theatrical wounds and gave reflexology. There was also badge and pom-pom making, engineering challenges with the local Cadets and healthy eating activities with Cornwall Council, as well as a whole host of games to play. There was a quiz to complete, part of a town wide Fun Palaces quiz, encouraging people to visit all the venues over the weekend.

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager of the museum said, ‘the day went fantastically, and participants and makers alike had a great time. We’re already thinking ahead to next year!’

Royal Cornwall Museum – Truro

The Royal Cornwall Museum had a plethora of different activities for people to explore, discover and create. Sophie Meyer, Marketing Digital Lead for the museum said, ‘you really felt the community spirit on Fun Palace day. A great range of people who had never been to the Museum before, suddenly spending hours exploring all the different activities on offer. It’s fantastic for the local community to come together and share skills and it’s a joy to host.’

The Royal Cornwall Museum had all sorts of activities such as;

  • Shallal 2 Dance performance inspired by their Face to Face exhibition. Be inspired and check out their video!
  • Lithium extraction and geology games with Cornish Lithium
  • Radio broadcasting with Pirate FM
  • Learning to sing with Hall for Cornwall
  • Learning Cornish
  • Gold Panning

 

If you’d like to take part in or host a Fun Palace weekend, please head to the Fun Palaces website for all the details. The next weekend of action is the 3rd and 4th October 2020.

 

– Jody Woolcock

Marketing and Impact Officer, Cornwall Museums Partnership

A Greener Museum

Bryony Robins

Bryony Robins, Museum Development Officer for Cornwall, recently headed to Brighton for the Museums Association conference. Alongside colleagues of CMP and The Castle Museum and Heritage Centre in Bude, Bryony highlighted the fantastic work which has, and continues to be carried out, throughout the small museums of Cornwall to tackle climate change. Read on to hear what Bryony has to say about the sessions and case studies from the conference. 

Green Museum Manifesto

I have long campaigned to raise the profile of the amazing and groundbreaking work by small museums that so often falls off the radar yet is something which we, in the wider sector could benefit from. I was delighted to have the opportunity to highlight some of the pioneering work they are doing to tackle climate change, at the Museums Association conference in Brighton earlier this month.

Plastic pollution is a particularly important issue for Cornwall. We have around 300 miles of coastline and you are never more than 20 miles from the sea. In Britain there is around 150 plastic bottles littering each mile of coastline and we use around 38 ½ million single use plastic bottles every day, of which less than half are recycled. Each plastic bottle takes 450 years to decay* – it’s clear to see we have an ongoing issue here.

Bryony - MA Conference

Photo – Rachael Rowley

Big Ideas, Small Museums was a workshop session with a film case study from Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum about tackling plastic pollution. The museum is a small independent charity which operates on an inside-out basis, meaning they concentrate their efforts on going out to where the people are through heritage walks, pop-up exhibitions, hotel talks and schools’ outreach, infiltrating heritage into any activity they can across the town. They work collaboratively within the heart of their community and are dependent entirely on the support of local partners, businesses and donations. You’ll find their short film, Together Against Plastic, at the end of this article.

The second case study was given by Janine King from the Castle Museum and Heritage Centre, Bude. Janine spoke about their ambition in becoming the UK’s greenest town and what the museum are doing to contribute towards this initiative through their learning activities, exhibitions and within the organisation through their operations, café and shop.

Participants at the session took part in round table discussions to share and brainstorm practical solutions that museums can adopt to improve their environmental impact. The ideas from this discussion coupled with those within the case studies and a further conversation within the National Museum Directors Council have fed into the following Green Museum Manifesto, designed for organisations to adapt and build on.

It was great to hear how many museums are already tackling this work, and the range of initiatives being taken towards reducing carbon footprint. As a sector, we can take a lead in reducing our carbon footprint and taking a stand towards a greener future.

 

– Bryony Robins

*Statistics from Surfers Against Sewage

The Firm Foundations Programme

Firm Foundations

The Firm Foundations Programme is a four-day masterclass for people about to embark on a capital development project in the heritage sector.

Firm Foundations offers delegates the opportunity to learn from respected professionals, to have candid and exclusive insights into the industry and how it works, from procurement and project management to risk management and contracting.

Delegates will be able to share ideas and challenges in a supportive, confidential environment, and draw support from experts and peers.

Our team of professionals with extensive experience in developing and delivering heritage projects, will show you how to prepare, plan, deliver and sustain a successful capital project.

In the below film, Elisa Harris of Krowji, who took part in Firm Foundations last year (2018), talks about her experience of the programme and how it helped her take on and deliver a more effective and impactful capital project.

For more information and to book your space on the 2019/20 Firm Foundations programme, please click this link;  www.cornwallmuseumspartnership.co.uk/firm-foundations or email clare@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

 

Emerging Voices

Becki and Katie

The Emerging Voices bursary supports museum volunteers or emerging professionals to undertake training, research or placement opportunities that enhance their skills and bring new benefits to their host museum.

Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell decided to apply for the bursary following their experience as Citizen Curators at Falmouth Art Gallery. They have been awarded the bursary to continue developing their project, “Gut Reaction” which focuses on audience responses to the Margaret Whitford Bequest, a collection of 48 contemporary prints and a sculpture acquired by the gallery through the Artfund.

The collection is remarkably vibrant and graphically strong and while individual pieces have been on display, relatively little is known about the provenance of the collection as a whole. Through their research on Margaret as the source of these collected works, Becki and Katie have discovered there are another 25 pieces located in 8 museums and galleries in the UK.

For this post Becki and Katie have answered three key questions:

Why did you want to continue your “Gut Reaction” Citizen Curators project? 

K: With the continuing support of Falmouth Art Gallery, the Emerging Voices Bursary will enable us to pursue research threads we have discovered through the Citizen Curators project, visit the other pieces in Margaret’s collection, find out what we can about their provenance and to chase stories as they emerge.

For us, the idea that it is possible to have a felt, physical reaction to an artwork is fundamental to enabling everyone to respond to art in their own way. From what we have read about Margaret we understand that this was her approach to choosing art and have used this as the basis for our “Gut Reaction” project. We would like to continue to develop this idea through the creation of the digital exhibit and for workshops that connect to it.

B: Our initial Citizen Curators project took quite a natural progression after learning more about Margaret once we spoke to some of her friends about the type of person she was within her professional and personal life. We are now faced with learning a whole lot more information about Margaret’s further collection which is spread around the UK. It seemed very obvious to try and bring an awareness of Margaret’s other pieces together, in this case through a digital experience – building a portrait of a female Cornish collector and celebrating the collection in its entirety.

What are your hopes and expectations for this project?

B: I’m hoping we can do the collection justice and bring about a beautiful digital exhibition with a very ambitious idea of perhaps, bringing some or all pieces together for a physical exhibition (one day!) Also, I will be keen to explore how we will be able to bring to the surface a little about who a female collector is? Is it important, and if so, how does this stance affect galleries today or previously?

We are expecting to document our journey within the project through the use of blogs, vlogs, Podcasts and Instagram. Hopefully building an informative and enjoyable journey for all to evaluate.

K: I think that the Emerging Voices Bursary opens the possibility of seeing Margaret’s dispersed collection, hopefully bringing it together as a digital exhibit that can be shared with many. Personally, I am really interested in trying to see it from her perspective, to understand a bit more about her motivations as a collector and how this relates to her work as a feminist philosopher, and one who started life in a Methodist community in Cornwall.

Why do you think it will be useful to Falmouth Art Gallery?

K: I think it is a great opportunity to try out new ways of creating a digital exhibit, using the story of the collector as a way in to seeing this dispersed collection as a whole. We would like to develop the digital exhibit as a tool that enables audiences to think about and respond to the artworks and the business of collecting from their own perspectives.

B: Falmouth Art Gallery is very fortunate to be the custodians of such a beautiful and vibrant set of prints from the Margaret Whitford Bequest; we like to think that our project will help to raise the profile of the bequest and give the community and beyond the chance to interact and access the collection as a whole, leaving a fantastic digital collection tool for all to explore alongside more extensive history files for Falmouth Art Gallery.

 

– Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell

Falmouth Art Gallery

10 Tips For Making Collaborative Leadership Work

Collaborative Leadership

“Collaborative leadership needs people who can be open, flexible and responsive.”

For the last four years, Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) has been helping museums across the county become more open and connected to the people they serve. We set out with a clear aim to effect some fundamental changes by creating a collaborative culture within our own charity and across the museum sector in Cornwall. As an infrastructure charity that doesn’t run or own any museums, influencing ‘beyond authority’ is core to our approach. We believe that the power lies in the team.

Emmie Kell, CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership, has recently written an article sharing ten things she learned about creating a collaborative culture over the last few years.

 

Read: Collaborative Leadership

 

Emmie Kell

Author – Emmie Kell

Published – Arts Professional 12/09/2019

Cultural Democracy and Cultural Rights in Cornwall

What are our museums doing to respond to calls for greater cultural democracy and cultural rights in Cornwall? One of our major cultural democracy programmes is Citizen Curators. In partnership with the Curatorial Research Centre and funded by the Museums Association’s Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, the programme has two clear aims.

The first, to begin to democratise our museum collections by narrowing the gap between Cornish collections and communities; the second, to provide the start of an alternative pathway into museum work. We first piloted Citizen Curators at Royal Cornwall Museum as part of our Arts Council-supported Change Makers programme in 2017/18. Currently, seven NPO funded museums are taking part in the current three-year programme which offers 35 free places on this free curatorial training course.

Tehmina Goskar, Programme Leader, has recently written about how Citizen Curators was developed for Museum-iD magazine, and showcases some of the results and impact so far.

Read: Citizen Curators. An Experiment in Cultural Democracy.

Bright Sparks of 2018

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.

To get a better idea of the diverse range of projects that have enjoyed Bright Sparks support, here are the museums and artists who were successful last year.

Isles of Scilly Student Publication

The Islands’ Partnership worked with the Isles of Scilly Museum and the Five Islands Academy to produce a publication for visitors using selected artefacts as a starting point to explore local history.

Students visited the museum and interviewed local trustees and experts to investigate the islands’ rich heritage and changing fortunes over the past four thousand years.

The resulting guide for visiting families includes a young persons’ perspective on Scilly’s past, reflections on growing up on Cornwall’s islands and suggested activities linked to local culture and heritage.

Wish You Were Here

‘Wish You Were Here’ took as its starting point the idea of providing a winter escape for the residents of two nursing homes in Helston and the Lizard.

The Museum of Cornish Life worked with artist Susanna Webster, who brought to the project her creativity and experience working with residents in care homes, memory cafes and community settings in Cornwall. Together they designed a series of virtual visits to the museum using FaceTime. On these visits the residents were able to explore the museum and build relationships with the staff and volunteers without needing to travel.

This project allowed visitors who wouldn’t normally enjoy the museum to do so, and as a result of taking part, the nursing home residents became more comfortable using FaceTime and Skype to communicate with their own families. The museum purchased an iPad which they continue to use to help visitors engage with their collection.

The Looe Diehards

This project focussed on a little-known period in Looe’s history, the establishment in 1803 of the East and West Looe Volunteer Artillery during the Napoleonic era. The project wanted to remember this difficult time when the towns were despoiled of its trade by the threat of war and how the community came together.

The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol worked with Sue Field, a local maker, community artist, and storyteller to help bring this story to life through the interplay of puppets as exhibits and animated characters. Archive material was used to write the stories of the Looe Diehard men, exquisite puppets of Captain Thomas Bond and Fisherman volunteer Pengelly were hand crafted and the museum’s team of volunteers were trained in their operation.

Building audiences and providing engaging and meaningful interactions is essential for the future of the museum and its collections. Through projects like this, The Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol can continue to promote and engage people with their local heritage.

Redefining the Museum Label: New Voices

Falmouth Art Gallery has been working with artist Felicity Tattersall, whose drawing practice is inspired by hidden narratives in museums and archives, and Curator Charlotte Davis to deliver this exciting public engagement project.

A variety of community groups have been given the opportunity to learn about the function and use of museum labels. During these workshops they have been invited to create their own imaginative and experimental museum labels using unusual materials, creative writing, drawing and digital media. This project is about rethinking how people from the local community connect with the work that is in the Gallery.

The project will culminate in a public exhibition at Falmouth Art Gallery, a shared learning digital event and an open call for everyone to come and create their own label for a piece in the collection.

Remembering People from the Past

This is a collaborative project between Lostwithiel Museum and creative researcher Amanda Davidge, using the museum archives and collection to discover more about lives of important people from Lostwithiel’s past.

To begin with the team decided to research the fascinating life of Frances Hext (1819-1896) who had lived in the town and written a book Memorials of Lostwithiel (and of Restormell):collected and contributed. Amanda ran workshops with the museum volunteers to create assemblage memory boxes, family trees and journals to illustrate her life in a large display.

Following this, family history workshops will be offered to the wider community who wish to investigate the town’s history as well as their personal family history and create their own ‘story boxes’.

Apply Today

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.

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 is 27th October 2019 and decisions will be announced shortly afterwards.

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

For more information contact celine@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk  Tel: 01209500750 or  Emma Leaper feast@creativekernow.org.uk   Tel: 01209312502.

 

– Emma Leaper

FEAST Programme Administrator