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Cornish heritage project success for museums and schools partnership

  • Date: 10 December 2013
  • Area: South West
Mevagissey schoolchildren at the museum

Mevagissey schoolchildren at the museum.

A new partnership outreach project has brought local history to life for schools and museums across Cornwall.

Cornish Voices explores and celebrates the Cornish people's enduring relationship with the sea.  Developed by National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the project is based around specially commissioned actor-led performances which are delivered in partnership with smaller museums, galleries and heritage centres across Cornwall

The project has been made possible through Arts Council England's Renaissance Strategic Support Fund which focuses on any gaps or development opportunities across the sector, recognising that excellence and the potential for excellence can be found in museums of all sizes.

To date over 600 students and 12 schools have taken part in the living history project, described by teachers as an "invaluable learning experience".  Schools involved range from St Martyn-in-Maneage and Stratton, Newlyn to Nansloe, covering an area from Penzance to Bude.

A teacher from Newlyn School said: 'This experience had far more value than watching a television programme, it brought the artefacts and stories to life in a way that made this an unforgettable experience for the children.' 

Stuart Slade, Education Manager, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, said: 'What is really special about this project is the partnership with smaller museums, galleries and heritage centres. We have worked closely with each partner museum to link the stories to their own collections and the ambitions of each host museum. This way the museums benefit by having a performance that directly relates to them and children are able to explore their own particular local heritage.'

Gordon Kane, Honorary Curator, Mevagissey Museum, said: 'It's been a very positive experience working with the Maritime Museum. By planning the event together,r we were able to share skills and resources to produce a fantastic learning experience for local children that neither museum could do by themselves.  As a small museum we have a wealth of local knowledge and artefacts, but not the budgets to produce living history programmes in this way.'

Jonathan Griffin, Director, National Maritime Museum Cornwall said: 'We are over the moon with the results.  Our ambition is to use this success to enable the development of long term, practical and mutually supportive relationships with museums across Cornwall. Young people now have the opportunity to experience a unique form of live drama, one based on real stories and real characters from Cornwall past.'

This audience development initiative is part of a package of partnership projects being delivered across Cornwall by National Maritime Museum Cornwall, The Royal Cornwall Museum, Falmouth Art Gallery, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'We believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts, museums and libraries, and one of the ways we work to achieve that is by investing in partners who deliver high-quality arts and cultural learning experiences.  The partners in this project have worked together to create something extraordinary, literally bringing stories to life in a very personal and local way.  We are delighted to have been able to support them in developing these new initiatives.'