Guest Blog: Visiting Cornwall’s Museums the Green Way

For many people, working in a museum might sound like a dream job. I was one of those people (and indeed I still am), but this week I have been lucky enough to find the only job that is even better – working across several museums, for the wonderful Cornwall Museums Partnership. My name is Nick Collins and I’ve been here for an all-too-brief secondment from the University of Exeter as part of their Professional Pathways programme. I’ve visited museums and galleries across the county this week, and below I’m going to share my thoughts on the amazing exhibitions they’re running at the moment. There’s another theme I’d also like to share. I’ve been trying to show how we can be greener in our museum visits, and help to reduce congestion on Cornwall’s roads, which will be as busy as ever this summer. I’ve travelled to all of these exhibitions using nothing more than public transport and my trusty steed (a bicycle, not a horse). But more on that in a moment…

On Monday, I started at Penlee House to see Munnings in Cornwall, an exhibition which will take regulars there from the familiar territory of the early Newlyn School into the perhaps less familiar territory of the later Newlyn School, whilst also introducing new visitors to the beauty and humanity of this school of painting. It is that humanity which really shines through in this exhibition – perhaps ironically, given that its principle subject, Alfred Munnings, is best-known for painting horses. But, whatever the paintings, show, we have to remember that it was people who made them, and this exhibition tells those people’s stories with touching sensitivity. Often, the glimpses we get of artists’ lives are startlingly intimate. Munnings’ painting coat, palette and brushes are here, as are examples of his letters and sketchbooks and his beautiful poem to Jessica Heath. Harold Knight’s portrait of Munnings dominates the entrance to the exhibition, portraying only a few hints of the alleged tension between the two. It is one of three portraits of Munnings, another being a self-deprecating, caricatured self-portrait. Munnings’ contemporaries dominate the next two rooms, with Harold and Laura Knight, Samuel John “Lamorna” Birch, Frank Gascoigne Heath and Charles W. Simpson particularly prominent. They give us a wonderful insight into the world of the Newlyn School’s less-famous later stages.

Sir Alfred Munnings

The Lamorna Inn, 1915

Oil on canvas

Sir Alfred Munnings Museum

© Sir Alfred Munnings Museum. DACS 2019

Come Tuesday, and we made the longest trip of the week, all the way up to Bodmin (yes, by public transport!) to Cornwall’s Regimental Museum. Have a look at the video below this paragraph…

I wasn’t joking, describing music as a great morale raiser. The army has known it for centuries, a story told with great insight and originality by CRM’s Citizen Curators, in their exhibition Music, Morale and the Military. There are some fantastic objects here, including the D Day dodgers’ banjo, carried by soldiers in Italy in the Second World War in ironic reference to the derogatory nickname forced on them; and a Light Infantry Drum, which ties in very well to the rest of the museum and the superb videos which allow former members of that regiment to tell its story in their own words. The real highlights, though, are the playable 1920s piano and the new recording of the DCLI Boys Marching Song (a local song probably not heard in almost 100 years), both of which make the exhibition a fantastic place to stay for a while and enjoy the atmosphere. The exhibition was created by the Citizen Curators, a group of five volunteers who put it together over a period of several months. The programme will be running again with new volunteers from October 2019 to April 2020 across several museums in Cornwall. Have a look at the previous blog post for much more information on that.

The equivalent Citizen Curators’ exhibition at Falmouth Art Gallery has finished (until the next one!), but the spirit of community curation is alive and well in their new exhibition Stuff and Nonsense, which I saw on Wednesday. There are several pieces of community-curated art and there will be more throughout the summer. There is also the chance for every single person who walks through the door to contribute, with visitors being asked to upload photos of their own “shrines” in response to those created for the exhibition, and also to leave their own found objects alongside those in the exhibition.

The Nonsense half of this exhibition is brilliantly uplifting, featuring illustrations from Quentin Blake, Tony Ross and Edward Lear which are sure to please children and to bring out the child in the rest of us. There is even a woodblock used in the illustration of Alice in Wonderland, alongside Lewis Carrol’s diary, a real highlight. Several fantastic automata have also found their way into the exhibition. Anyone who enjoys seeing these should also make their way down to the library, housed in the same building, which features more, including an enormous example based on Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books.

Uplifting Nonsense

To return to the transport theme, Thursday presented an unusual challenge. Many people would see Portcurno Telegraph Museum as inaccessible by public transport, but there is in fact a bus which stops right outside it. Admittedly, the unusual challenge I mentioned was the fact that said bus broke down in St Buryan on the return journey, but I’m sure that doesn’t happen often… If the owner of St Buryan Caterers, who very kindly gave me a lift back to Penzance, is reading, thanks once again!

The Telegraph Museum itself is today perhaps more relevant than it’s ever been – as we live through our own communications revolution, it becomes ever more important to understand previous ones. At Porthcurno that story is told not only in terms of the technology (which is covered superbly through working objects and demonstrations) but the people who used and made it, whose lives are shown through their photos and possessions. The highlight is the spectacular Second World War bunker, filled with hundreds of artefacts, many of which are still working. The photo here is the escape stairs, a tunnel leading from the bunker all the way to the surface and beautiful views of the valley.

The escape stairs from the Second World War bunker at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

I finished the week just this morning at Royal Cornwall Museum for their exhibition Eye to the Sky exhibition, which tells the story of John Couch Adams, who predicted the discovery of Neptune, through Manga. It is an incredible story, and a highly innovative way of telling it. The Manga sits alongside more traditional museum objects, including a large celestial globe and the astonishingly-restored portrait of Adams, which has been transformed from quite literally having a hole in the unfortunate astronomer’s forehead to as good as new. Bringing both of these approaches together creates something far better than either style could have achieved alone.

The addition of Cornish language adds a lovely touch to the Manga which tells the story of John Couch Adams and his fellow Cornish astronomers.

So what have I learnt this week? A lot. More than I can really say. I’ve been lucky enough to work in museums before and if this experience has been an exception it’s because it’s been even better than those other times. Museums tell us stories, entertain us and make us think, but never has it been clearer to me than it has this week that they can also change lives. From the Citizen Curators who put on such wonderful exhibitions, some of whom have gone on to continued involvement in the heritage sector, to the home-educated children who I saw taking part in a workshop in Falmouth, I have come to understand that museums are about more than probably most people realise. They harness history and the arts as a positive force for the present, and it has been an honour to see how much difference that can make.

I would like to thank the University of Exeter for their part in organising this placement and for the stimulating and enlightening training I took part in there last week. Most of all, I can’t thank the people at CMP and all of the museums in the partnership enough. I hope to see you all again sometime.

Guest Blog: Join Us in Year Two of Citizen Curators

Dr Tehmina Goskar is the Director of the Curatorial Research Centre and leads Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Citizen Curators programme. We are delighted that Tehmina has kindly written this blog to answer a few FAQs  for anyone who is interested in taking part in the programme.

We have just completed a successful Year One of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supported Citizen Curators programme. 29 participants who joined as volunteers at their chosen museum successfully completed the programme and received a certificate for their accomplishment.

If you are interested in taking part in Year Two of Citizen Curators, here are some of your questions answered.

Two of the Citizen Curators examining some of Penlee House Gallery and Museum's collection in the object handling session.

 

What is Citizen Curators?

Citizen Curators is a free work-based training programme in museum awareness and modern curatorial practice aimed at volunteers from our community. The programme is provided by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with seven museums. It is funded for three years by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund administered by the Museums Association. The Programme Leader is Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator & Director of the Curatorial Research Centre.

 

When and where does it take place?

The Citizen Curators course takes place between October 2019 – April 2020. Seven Cornish museums are taking part in the programme: Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Bodmin, Wheal Martyn Clay Works, near St Austell, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, Falmouth Art Gallery, Museum of Cornish Life, Helston, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance and Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

 

How many places are there?

Each museum has five places. Each year there will be approximately 35 volunteers undertaking the Citizen Curators course.

 

What experience and qualifications do I need?

None. Just a thirst for learning, the ability to demonstrate your curiosity, and be willing to find things out for yourself. You should be able to commit the time needed to make the most of this opportunity. We encourage you bring and to talk about your existing skills and previous experience.

 

A Citizen Curator creating music by hitting a silver plate with a spoon during the interpretation session.

 

How much time do I have to spend on the programme?

You must attend the six core sessions: collections, communities, research, interpretation, communication and curating the Cornish National Collection. These will take place on a monthly basis from October. They will take place in one of the museums in your group. That means about one full day per month. In addition, you will be working on researching and creating content about the collections in your museum. This might be according to a brief set by the museum or it might be on something your group thinks is important. You can expect to commit to between 4 hours to 1 day per fortnight on this. You are welcome to volunteer more hours but this is entirely down to you and your museum. There are also optional opportunities such as field trips and discussion events you will be invited to take part in.

 

What kinds of things will interest me?

Museum collections contain a wealth of untapped knowledge, stories, and ideas from political events and abstract art to family history and science. Our museums are waiting for you to help them share that knowledge with different people. If you get excited by new discoveries, finding something out or asking probing questions then Citizen Curators is for you. The course will teach you how to curate thoughtfully and meaningfully. It will help you to see the relationship between knowledge creation and communication and you will gain a whole set of specific skills as a result.

This year the cohort will be invited to research collections to highlight new stories, particularly those of under-represented people and subjects. This will also include getting involved in the creation of a Cornish National Collection that will reflect the diversity of Cornish society past and present, while also highlighting our distinctive culture.

 

Two Citizen Curators learn how to

 

What do I need to do to sign up?

The seven participating museums are beginning to look for their next candidates. In the first instance, check out their websites and get in touch with the museum that most appeals to you. In due course, they will send you a questionnaire to complete and we will take it from there.

You can contact the museums participating in Citizen Curators by clicking the links below:

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum 

Falmouth Art Gallery

Museum of Cornish Life, Helston

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

Royal Cornwall Museum

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno

Wheal Martyn

 

Dr Tehmina Goskar
Director, Curatorial Research Centre

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.

 

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.

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.

Family Friendly Award 2019

In March 2019 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 at museums and heritage organisations in Cornwall.

The Family Friendly Award celebrates projects and activities in museums that create excellent all-round family visits.

Family Friendly Award – Winner
Padstow Museum: Padstow New Museum

 

A photo of Padstow Museum, winners of the Family Friendly Award

Padstow Museum’s move to a new location in the town has greatly increased the accessibility for families visiting the museum. The new museum has level access for pushchairs, a pushchair parking space, and new interactive displays where families can explore digital photographs, learning together to answer questions about the images.

 

Family Friendly Award – Highly Commended

 

 

Lostwithiel Museum: Toddler Trail

 

Lostwithiel Museum’s Toddler Trail is a free activity helping families with young children to engage with the museum’s collection. Families must explore the museum to find the 12 naughty little rubber ducks who have escaped the towns duck race and are now hiding in the museum. There is a quiz sheet for the guardians to fill in for the children as they spot the 11 ducks and one disguised as a red apple. When all ducks are found each child receives a reward sticker.

 

Newquay Heritage Archive & Museum: Children and Adult Cornish Project Cases

 

Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum have created a series of 10 Cornish Project Cases to engage visiting families to learn about various Cornish themes including local minerals, Cornish places, and learning about the Cornish language. Encouraging teamwork, each case has all the necessary books, information, and equipment for two to three people to complete tasks and learn something new about the theme of the case.

Spotlight on: Katie Wylie, Marketing and Digital Intern at Royal Cornwall Museum

After five fantastic months, I am now nearing the end of my placement as the Marketing and Digital Intern at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. My role at the RCM has primarily involved assisting the Marketing and Digital Lead, Sophie Meyer, in promoting stories from the museum’s collections. This has mainly been achieved through a mix of social media, blogs and online exhibitions.

I have also had the opportunity to attend a number of talks and conferences, including the Museums Association ‘Digital Basics Bootcamp’ at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. I have learnt a lot about the importance of creating great content – using my knowledge to explore the collections, stores and archives, and to bring hitherto unknown tales to the fore.

Knowing that my term at the RCM would take in International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month (both in March), I have been particularly inspired to focus on the women that are represented in the museum’s collections.

Staff and patients, including Red Cross nurses, outside the Royal Cornwall Infirmary, Truro, Cornwall. 21st July 1916. © From the collection of the RIC (TRURI-TRUhrc-9). As featured in the online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’.

For example, with the recent online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’, I was keen to incorporate pieces on both Red Cross nurses and the Women’s Land Army in Cornwall. The RCM’s photographic collection clearly shows their remarkable contribution to the war effort – training to help the sick and wounded and taking on demanding agricultural work. It was a privilege to research their time at the Royal Cornwall Infirmary and Tregavethan Farm near Truro.

Members of the First World War Women’s Land Army at Tregavethan Farm, Truro, Cornwall. April-May 1917. © From the collection of the RIC (TRURI-1972-2-56). As featured in the online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’.

Likewise, I am currently participating in a campaign devised by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Using social media, they have been asking the public whether they can name five women artists. Many cannot, calling attention to the fact that women have not been treated equally in the art sphere, and today remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries and auction houses worldwide.

In a bid to help the NMWA promote gender equality, we have joined the #5WomenArtists movement – pledging to release a series of blog posts highlighting five women artists that are included in the RCM’s collections. A physical trail has also been put together to emphasise their work within the museum.

The posts will feature artists from a range of time periods, who use a variety of different mediums for expression. The first article was about Esther M. Moore (1857-1934), who worked as a colliery agent before becoming a sculptor in 1891. Her Art Nouveau and Symbolist piece ‘At the Gates of the Past’ is one of my favourite objects at the museum. The following instalments will be published on each Friday in March.

‘At the Gates of the Past’ by Esther M. Moore (1857-1934). As featured in the #5WomenArtists blog series with the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship and look forward to making the most of my last few weeks at the RCM.

– Katie Wylie
Marketing and Digital Intern, Royal Cornwall Museum

You can follow #5WomenArtists here: https://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/5womenartists

The online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories from the First World War’ can be found here: https://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/exhibition/behind-the-lines-personal-stories-of-the-first-world-war

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog 4 – ‘The Bethlehem Pasty’

In the run up to the Cornwall Heritage Awards, I have been visiting each of the museums with shortlisted objects nominated for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019, to hear from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects.

In this vlog I speak to Rosie Kliskey, Assistant Curator at Museum of Cornish Life in Helston to hear the story behind their shortlisted object the ‘Bethlehem Pasty.’

I hadn’t visited the Museum of Cornish Life before filming the vlog. The museum specialises in the social history of Cornwall and I was surprised at the variety of objects in their collection, from typewriters to mobile phones, and military uniforms to the gigantic, centuries old, cider press. The ‘Bethlehem Pasty’ – which is carved from stone – is a particularly fascinating example of Cornwall’s social history as it enlightens us to the life of William Jewell, a butcher from Cornwall, who served with the Desert Rats in Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War.

To vote for your favourite Cornish object click here.
Voting closes Midnight Tues 12 February 2019.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog 3 – ‘Penzance Market Cross’

In the run up to the Cornwall Heritage Awards, 21 March, I have been visiting each of the shortlisted objects nominated for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 to hear from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects.

In this vlog I speak to Anna Renton, Director at Penlee House Gallery and Museum, to hear the story of their shortlisted object, the ‘Penzance Market Cross’.

It was amazing to hear the story of the cross, which has been a mainstay of Penzance for over 1000 years. It was fascinating to find out about the meaning of the inscriptions, and how the cross has moved to seven different locations around the town.

The Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 is open to public vote, vote for your favourite object here.

Voting closes Midnight 12 Feb.
The winner will be announced at the Cornwall Heritage Awards, 21 March 2019.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Board Development: Succession Planning

By now you know how much I love a sporting analogy. So it should come as no surprise that I’m going to use another one here to look at why being strategic about your board development and succession plan will help your organisation to deliver greater impact and focus resources more effectively.

After England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 a lot of the experienced squad retired, and we had a hiatus of about ten years when frankly we weren’t that great. Mike Catt, one of that winning squad summed it up, “There was no legacy from our win. We didn’t pass anything on.” This has often confused me with British sports, why’d we get so good and then suddenly after a great achievement we’d seem to have to begin all over again.

I asked a friend of mine, a professional rugby player, why this was. His answer was succession planning. Well, his answer was a bit longer than that, but that was a large part of it. He used the example of the All Blacks, a team that has dominated the game for decades, they are the most successful sports franchise in history.

Museums and other charities can learn a lot from how the All Blacks, and other great sporting teams evolve and develop, continually striving to be better and do better.

 

“We always want to make sure that the place we go to, we leave it in as good if not better shape than when we arrived.”

– Sam Whitelock, City AM 2015

The All Blacks have a clear culture and values that they embed in every player, from the grassroots to the elite and all the support staff of coaches, trainers, in fact everyone involved in the game. ‘Better people make better All Blacks’ is the mantra that underpins the team’s culture.

Steve Tew, CEO of New Zealand Rugby says, “You have to live those values and live them 24/7 otherwise they end up being just words on a strategic plan or brand poster or some other fancy document.” They unite behind a shared vision of what success looks like.

The All Blacks never lose sight of who they are playing for: family, friends, their team mates and every single Kiwi scattered across the world. This is a lesson for every charity, to keep your stakeholders at the heart of everything that you do.

The All Blacks train relentlessly, elite players constantly hone the fundamental basic skills of their game, continually improving. An All Black would never consider they have nothing left to learn or suggest that they have all the necessary skills to deliver the best they can. The All Blacks have as high expectations of themselves as their fans do. Resting on their laurels is not an option.

To learn more about effective board development, please see our Governance eLearning modules (coming soon) or get in touch with us about our Good Governance programme by emailing clare@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk.

– Clare Pennington, RPR Programme Manager

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog – Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery

Hi, I’m Peter the new Marketing and Events Intern at Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Part of my role at CMP is to help deliver events including the Cornwall Heritage Awards in March. The Cornwall Heritage Awards is a fantastic opportunity for museums and heritage organisations to showcase some of the amazing work they are doing, and this year the Cornish Object of the Year Award has been opened up to the public so everybody can have their say.

One of the great aspects of my internship is visiting the different museums in Cornwall, both big and small, and speaking to the staff and volunteers. Over the upcoming weeks I will be visiting each of the shortlisted objects and finding out from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects and why they were nominated.

In this first vlog, I visit Murdoch House in Redruth to hear about the story behind the Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery. Murdoch House was originally the residence of inventor William Murdoch and was the first house in the world to have gas lighting. Murdoch House is now home to the Cornish Global Migration Programme, and it is their director Mike who nominated the object for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019.

The next vlog will feature the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ hood ornament and mould, nominated by Wheal Martyn Clay Works.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Catalyst Programme comes to an end

Over the past 4 years, Cornwall Museums Partnership, with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, has delivered the successful Catalyst business support programme for museums in Cornwall. As the final phase of this programme comes to an end, we wanted to share some of the successes of this practical and effective programme with you.

Museums from all over Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – as far apart as Bude and St Mary’s, some with no paid staff and some with over 20 members of staff, have benefited from the skills workshops, and provided us with feedback like ‘an excellent balance of learning and practical exercises, the trainer had a wealth of experience’ and ‘very interesting, informative and useful. Lots to share with others and leads to follow-up. Thank you.’

A number of museums have also benefited from mentoring and further business support to help them develop effective fundraising strategies, these organisations have measurably increased their confidence, skills and resources over the course of the programme.

The time and support to write our fundraising strategy has come at exactly the right time. Because of our tiny staff capacity, without the support provided by the Catalyst programme, we would have struggled to make any headway at all.’

Trustees and staff have gained a much greater understanding of the challenges we face and the steps we need to take in order to fundraise successfully.  There has been a profound organisational change insofar as everyone now understands and accepts the need for change and for a major focus on fundraising.’

Readers may view below videos – case studies of museums who have participated in the second and final phase of the Catalyst Programme, namely, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Helston Museum and Truro Cathedral.