Arts Council Award brings together Reading Museums and work experience opps for local residents
The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) will be awarded £275,000 and will work with Reading Museum on a new programme for 2014/15, including a series of Reading in Conflict events commemorating the First World War Centenary in 2014.
MERL, which is owned and managed by the University of Reading, has received the award as part of a funding package worth more than £375,000 made to museums in the region by Arts Council England’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund.
The Renaissance funding will enable both museums to share skills and collections to create a programme which reaches out to and engages with local communities.
The project will also benefit the local community by addressing issues of employability, through incorporating a programme of ‘fair access’ internship and work experience. It will also provide opportunities for those normally excluded from volunteering, due to financial reasons, to acquire skills and experience enhancing their ability to secure employment or gain access to further training or education.
Reading Museum’s strengths in community engagement will complement the University Museum’s expertise in digital resources and curation in order that both museums can make more of their collections accessible online.
Both Museums hold high quality local history collections relating to Reading’s rich photographic heritage, including the Dann Lewis and Collier collections and the Reading Chronicle collections, which will be part of a major shared exhibition at RM on Reading and photography.
Other collections to be featured will be the strong war-time related collections, such as the Evacuee archive held at MERL, which will form the basis for Reading’s programme of events for ‘Reading in conflict’ and rural wartime, planned around the First World War centenary in 2014.
Kate Arnold-Forster, Director of MERL, said: “Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life are two of the region’s most significant museums. We are delighted to be able to combine forces on this exciting project that will share our excellence in collections and audience engagement that will contribute to many key developments, including our joint plans for 2014 WW1 commemorations.”
Cllr Marian Livingston, Lead Councillor for Culture and Sport at Reading Borough Council, said: “The announcement of this ACE project funding for the Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum is fantastic news for Reading. It continues a history of successful collaboration between the University of Reading and Reading Borough Council to make our town’s collections accessible to people both locally and nationally.”