Epping Forest District and World War One Community Cabinet Project

Epping Forest District and World War One Community Cabinet Project

Francesca Pellegrino, Audience Development Officer, Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum is one of the Museums selected to receive funding and be part of the Share Museums East Community Cabinet project.

The team were really excited about the project and were keen to use the opportunity to explore and reach out to parts of the district that don’t always access the Museum due to travel limitation etc. Our community cabinet will be displayed in Epping Civic Offices as the Museum is currently closed for a Heritage Lottery Fund Redevelopment.

Our first project was working to help document the links between the district and World War One. The Museum does have a selection of World War One objects within the collection but we felt it was important to discover any other stories, memories or objects that people had and make a record of these.

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As part of the project the team have been going out and about into the district, holding Heritage Events in various venues for people to drop in with anything they might have to share with us. The objects will be recorded and stories documented and these records will become part of the Museum’s collection.  These objects will then form our first Community Cabinet display in the reception of the Civic Offices in Epping.

Our first event took place at Budworth Hall in Ongar on Saturday 21st June. The event was run alongside the Ongar Millennium History Society and we had around 100 people turn up on the day to hear about our project, the Museum’s redevelopment and see some of the objects on display from the History Society and bring along objects and stories for us to document. Hearing the stories and seeing the objects was a special experience for the team, both

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fascinating and emotional. It was great for the Museum team to be able to document some of these stories. One gentleman had objects and papers relating to his uncle and father who both came from Ongar and fought in the First World War. On the right you can see his father’s discharge papers.

Moving forward we hope to work towards a more co-production based programme. This is a long term project for us and once the Museum reopens the cabinet will be displayed within the Museum and be an opportunity to have groups access the collection, which will all be on site, and create all aspects of the displays themselves. Co-production is a really exciting way for this project to progress and something we are really looking forward to. We are also working on a co-production mini exhibition as part of the Take Over Day initiative where students will curate and produce all aspects of a small travelling case exhibition.The team are now working on the display which will be open ready for the anniversary of the start of World War One on 4th August.

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How Can Reminiscence Engage Audiences?

Mark Curteis, Network Co-ordinator, Reminiscence Network East

Reminiscence is an innovative and creative way of engaging with people of all ages including hard to reach audiences. Reminiscence work empowers people, bringing history to life and can also help to forge active and engaging partnerships and activities across generations. It is therefore an approach which can be used across many sectors including museums, the arts, health and social care and education, with the potential for cross sector partnership working.

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Land Girls reminiscence event

A visual, tactile and audio experience can aid a person’s recall and reminiscence involves the use of prompts such as museum objects, photographs, music, film and poetry as memory triggers to stimulate the long term memory of older people and particularly people with dementia and early onset dementia. It has the potential to lift mood, raise self-esteem, improve communication and aid general well- being. It links to a variety of government agendas including community cohesion and older people’s mental health by emphasising the valuing of a person’s life history and experience which is integral to the person centred care approach.  From a museum perspective it can help develop an understanding of collections, aid the development of new collections and can be extended into contemporary collecting projects.  Apart from developing new audiences, other benefits to the museum are it increases access to collections; it facilitates community involvement, and has partnership working opportunities.

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Community event, Rackheath

Organisations across many sectors have found working on reminiscence related projects to be hugely beneficial. Reminiscence work can lead to many innovative outcomes and memories can inform a wide range of cross sector creative activities, such as art and craft work, making memory quilts, memory collages, life story book work, animated film production, photographic work, music making, drama, creative writing and poetry. The reminiscence process can also be used to identify potential people who are willing to have their story recorded as oral history.

This work is supported in the East by Reminiscence Network East – a network open to all and consisting of individuals and organisations from many sectors committed to reminiscence work. The East of England has a wealth of experience and expertise in reminiscence work and membership of the network, which currently stands at just over 200, includes people from museums, health and social care, arts, libraries, archives, the voluntary sector, education and youth work.

The network aims to:

  • Encourage innovation and promote project development
  • Develop partnerships and activities across sectors
  • Provide training, information, advice and guidance
  • Share good practice
  • Work to ’embed’ reminiscence across the sectors

The network, which is supported by SHARE and was derived from a SHARE conference in 2010, became formally constituted in 2013.

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Reminiscence Network East workshop

The network currently organises workshops and conferences and communicates through an e-newsletter to its membership. Membership is free and open to all those with an interest in reminiscence work. The network continues to develop and evolve and is currently looking at ways for members to share information and ideas through social networking.

Click here to view all upcoming network events.

 

If you would like to join the network contact Mark Curteis at mark.curteis@chelmsford.gov.uk.

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