Commemoration of the Centenary of the First World War at Swindon Museum & Art Gallery (Swindon MAG)
The team at Swindon MAG was delighted to have been awarded Heritage Lottery Fund funding of £6,800 towards its plans for commemorating the Centenary of the First World War. There were three exhibitions exploring World War I through modern and contemporary art, and Swindon’s own military history. The Museum and Art Gallery wanted to share Swindon’s WWI heritage in a way that was relevant, engaging and offered a variety of new perspectives for audiences focusing on social history and modern art collections.
Cicatrix (meaning: the scar of a healed wound) is the main WWI commemoration exhibition, a centenary project which reflects the story of Wiltshire during World War I.
The second exhibition, The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry: A History explored their history, with a special focus on the Yeomanry’s service in France between 1914 and 1918.
The final exhibition, Art and Conflict, brought together paintings and drawings from the Swindon collection which reflect on war and conflict.
A series of family and educational workshops are planned accompanied the exhibitions as well as free lunch time talks where you could find out more about key works in the exhibitions.
Swindon’s Archaeology in Context: Excavating our archaeological collections and sharing Swindon’s ancient histories
Swindon MAG has recently completed a two year project called ‘Swindon’s Archaeology in Context’. The project was funded by £62,000 from the HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) and completed at the end of 2018.
Changes had already been made to our stored archaeology collections, cataloguing and re-organising excavation archives to provide greater access to staff and researchers. This project also allowed us to refresh and update our archaeology gallery, displaying objects previously in store and improving the interpretation of our collections for the public. Changes were also made in the way we collect archaeology from current and future excavations, this work is particularly timely; the anticipated expansion of Swindon in the coming years is likely to produce a large amount of archaeological material which will be transferred to SM&AG to be cared for in the long term.
In 2014 Swindon MAG received £80,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards Hidden Potential – Understanding, Centralising, Caring for and Sharing Swindon’s Stored Collections. The project aimed to improve our understanding of the size and nature of the museum’s extensive collections, make recommendations on future storage needs and improve access to the collections.
Over the course of two years we worked with a dedicated team of volunteers to catalogue, document and pack nearly 10,000 objects. We were able to share around 1,000 objects from our stores, online, as our choice of ‘pick of the month’ or in our exhibition, ‘Swindon in 175 images’. Some of the objects are now on long-term display in our refreshed Natural World and Made in Swindon Galleries.
With a lot of hard work we have been able to care better for objects, learn more about them and make staff, volunteer and researcher access to objects easier. This means we can identify future projects and improvements, and makes applying for funding and participating in existing projects and research much more straight-forward.
Luisa, a student on the Museum Studies MA at Bath Spa University, worked with the team to fully catalogue the collections on display in the Natural World Gallery. She was able to improve the way the collections are displayed, as well as displaying some of the stored collections in the refreshed gallery.
We love Christmas so as well as decorating the museum to look as festive as possible in 2015, we also thought we’d find out about what traditions our visitors enjoy. You can find out more about what we discovered here.
Our Engagement Manager role was funded by Arts Council England and the post worked with individuals, groups (history, heritage and art), educational establishments and community organisations to assist them in accessing and experiencing the Swindon MAG collections of art and history. We recognise the importance of strong relationships with groups and individuals and are always keen to forge new links to ensure we make the most of our art, history and heritage in Swindon.
Laurence Dube-Rushby, a Salisbury-based artist, undertook a community art project, funded through Arts Council England, which engaged with the people of Swindon to capture memories, life stories and backgrounds. Laurence has created a ‘Postcard for Swindon’ that is on display on hoardings close to the proposed site for the new Swindon MAG.
You can hear Laurence talking to some of the people she met by visiting her YouTube page.
The 6 postcards are on display on the hoardings in Temple Street/Regent Street in Swindon town centre and will be available to view until early 2016.
Swindon Foyer is a 57 flat facility run by Stonewater Housing Association for 16-25 year olds. As one of their neighbours, Swindon MAG worked with residents to create a mural within the communal garden of Swindon Foyer, designed and painted by residents, using the art and history collections as inspiration with the assistance of an artist.
Swindon MAG staged an exhibition entitled ‘Swindon Town Centre : Past, Present and Future’ exploring the rapid changes to the heart of Swindon. The three-day event was staged in partnership with Broadgreen and Queenstown History Group, The Swindon Society, Swindon Viewpoint, Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, Swindon Libraries, and the Museum of Computing. Swindon’s Artsite group held a Big Draw event as part of the Family Arts Festival, encouraging younger visitors to draw their own versions of famous Swindon places and faces.