A group of North Cumbrian Museums have come together to encourage people to support their local Museums after they shut their doors on 5th November. With the closure of cultural organisations across the country, they are asking people to show their support for local museums throughout the winter months.
Jules Wooding, Museum Manager at Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life says: ‘There’s a real positive push for people to shop local in these tough times and support local businesses – we’re asking people to include their local museum too! Although some Museums managed to open safely throughout the summer with restrictions in place, they have now been ordered to close again. It is time to celebrate and show support for our Museums and we are asking people to join us to celebrate our collective heritage and the important part it plays within our community.’
Five local museums – Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life, Penrith & Eden Museum, Maryport Maritime Museum, Senhouse Roman Museum and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery – are involved in this initiative and, together, the group thinks they provide something for everyone, with wide-ranging collections from Romans to Maritime. The Museums are working together to showcase how culture can bring communities together, provide a sense of place and, in these uncertain times, celebrate a collective Cumbrian heritage. From the 23rd November, each day, the focus will be on a different Museum enabling them to showcase their unique collections and the fantastic work that they do and encouraging people to interact by showing their support using the hashtag #mylocalmuseum.
Jane Laskey, Museum Director of the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport explains: ‘People might ask why should they support this campaign? We understand there are so many businesses and organisations in need of support right now, but we feel that, during these uncertain times, Museums have provided some respite from the current situation, encouraged creativity, offered inspiration and have supported people’s mental health and wellbeing.’
Many of the museums in the partnership have adapted their programmes to provide digital interaction and virtual opportunities alongside COVID-safe activities at their venues, from socially distanced family craft activities to external exhibitions. The winter months are set to be difficult for Museums and this campaign aims to raise awareness of the community service they provide and encourage visitors to return when they re-open their doors.
Rebecca Short, Curator of Penrith & Eden Museum says: ‘We know that we cannot currently open our doors, but we want to remind local people that we are still here! We ‘re asking our communities to support their local Museums during these difficult times by joining us in a celebration of local heritage, raising awareness of our wonderful collections and bringing local people together in support.’
The group are asking people to show their appreciation online by using the #mylocalmuseum hashtag to share why their local museums are special to them – this could be a memory of a favourite object, a great exhibition, a fabulous event, or how they use their local museum as a safe space to learn, share stories and spend time with family and friends.
The Five Museums are actively encouraging people to follow them on social media and show their support by using the hashtag #mylocalmuseum from the week beginning 23 November.