Show, Tell + Play: sharing heritage projects and stuffed animals in Yorkshire

On 24 October I went along to a great event offering “a playful space” for discussing heritage activities in Yorkshire: Heritage Show+Tell.  This uses a very effective format: 3 minutes, 3 slides per speaker.  No long presentations to write, no big commitment of time, a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Grrrr!  Leeds tiger, courtesy

The projects all had some relevance to my work at Bradford: discovering the history of fashion and business, using a dyeing garden to help offenders, AR and sculpture, art gallery outreach, exploring Yorkshireness, and amazing use of audio-visual in historic theatres.  Find out more about the event and the speakers here.  The talks were followed of course by WINE AND SNACKY THINGS.

We also had a chance to see the stores at the venue, the Leeds Discovery Centre.  My knowledge of museum collections tends to focus on local and social history, so I was delighted that our hostess was on the natural science side as this museum has very strong collections in this area.  She showed us some very strange taxidermy* and loads of bird skins, eggs, shells, bones etc.  The space is available for school and family events; I can imagine that they have an amazing time, especially on Halloween when they creep in the dark among the things …

Which made me think: we shouldn’t underestimate the wow factor of collections on shelves even if they may not be quite as thrilling as museum collections.  Large libraries of early books, collections of rolls etc are outside many people’s experience and can be really impressive, especially in an historic library – the Hogwarts angle.  Like the collections they house, stores can be distinctive unique selling points. OK, it can be hard to do much about this if you have inadequate over-full premises, but the possibilities of organised visits and ways of glimpsing the stores can and should be a part of planning better premises.  Examples welcome …

*if you’ve met the Horniman Walrus, you’ll know what I mean.  And I will never forget the Half-monkey-skeleton/Half-furry-monkey (no picture, alas!) and the shelves crammed with grotesque toothed furry things …


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