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The New Curators Project

Vicky A Price12 January 2021

We are excited announce a new collaboration with Newham Heritage Month 2021.

Building on previous successes working with the London Borough of Newham’s Libraries and Archive and Newham Heritage Month, The New Curators Project will be a community curatorship project made especially for young adults aged 18-24 from Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets who do not have a university degree or more than 6 months paid experience in the cultural heritage field.

Over three months, participants will be given training in skills and competencies relevant to working in the cultural heritage sector.  They will also work as a group to create their own collaborative exhibition for the Newham Heritage Month programme (held in May 2021).  It is hoped that this can become a recurring annual project, developing an ‘alumni’ of community curators who can go on to enrich future programming from this partnership.

With funding from Foundation for Future London and UCL Culture’s Community Engagement Seed Fund, we are able to bring in a range of different professionals from multiple corners of the cultural heritage field to deliver these training sessions, and we are able to offer a bursary to participants to ensure all those interested are able to apply.  This funding has also enabled us to bring in an external evaluator for the project.

A conservator works on manuscripts at UCL Special Collections. She holds a pair of tweezers at a table strewn with conservation materials in a brightly light room.

A conservator working on items at UCL Special Collections. Photograph © David Tett.

Call for Trainers and an Evaluator

We are currently seeking professionals in the cultural heritage sector with the right skills and experience to deliver one or more of a series of training sessions;

  1. Carrying out public history research (including how to develop an historical enquiry, understanding and interpreting a wide range of historical resources and how best to record findings).
  2. Accessing public records, archives, museums and libraries (how to find publicly available historical resources).
  3. Digital tools, skills and accessibility for the cultural heritage sector (how to create online ‘exhibitions’ and  how to use online platforms to engage with new audiences within the cultural heritage sector).
  4. Curatorship (how to develop ideas for an exhibition as a group, including ways of creating a narrative, using themes and how to first identify and then play with or challenge the tradition ‘norms’ of what an exhibition is).
  5. Oracy and presentation skills (how to speak about yourself and your work to various audiences, including on the radio or podcast, or to run an online or face to face event for the public).

We would be particularly keen to hear from professionals based in or around East London.  For a full brief, please contact us at library.spec.coll.ed@ucl.ac.uk .

We are also seeking an evaluator who is available to start in January.  We would also be most keen to hear from prospective evaluators who are based in or near East London.  A full brief will be provided on request, please email library.spec.coll.ed@ucl.ac.uk  before sending an expression of interest.

The Foundation for Future London logo

 

Outreach Touring Exhibition Makes its Way to Stratford

Vicky A Price19 October 2017

First Stop; Stratford Library

UCL Special Collections have been busy putting together an exhibition that combines items from the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories and Newham Borough’s own archival items.

The exhibition in Stratford Library

The exhibition in Stratford Library

This ‘pop-up’ exhibition features historic photographs, archival documents, maps and rare publications that tell of East London’s rich and fascinating past.  As the banners tour all of Newham’s 10 public libraries, we’ll be running a range of different workshops to deepen engagement and to create opportunities to record local people’s oral histories.  Many of these activities will take place in Newham Heritage Week.

Posters for the exhibition in pride of place at Stratford Library

Posters for the exhibition in pride of place at Stratford Library

Poetry from the Archive
We’ve kicked things off with three poetry workshops in Stratford and East Ham libraries.  These groups are already well established and participants enjoy writing poetry in an inclusive and positive environment. They were keen to engage with the forthcoming exhibition and the archival items we brought to them.  Poems ranged from sombre, thoughtful pieces about racial tensions and migration, to playful tales of the quintessential cup of tea at a Newham street party in the 1920s.

The Saturday morning group in full swing

The Saturday morning group in full swing

London Memory Archive and UCL East

The oral histories we record will be the beginning of a new initiative, the London Memory Archive, which will be part of UCL East’s Culture Lab.  It’s a timely opportunity to start developing a collection that reflects the memories and perspectives of a local community that UCL will soon be neighbour to.

Successful Funding Bids

To support the project, and to help lay the foundations for a longer term relationship with Newham and its library and archive services, we’ve sought external funding.  We are pleased to announce that we have been successful in a UCL Culture Beacon Bursary grant and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.  This means that we are able to buy the equipment needed to make archival quality recordings, receive specialist oral history training, pay for the printing of the exhibition and promotional material and all workshop resources, as well as support volunteers’ involvement throughout.

We hope that we will be able to collaborate with Newham in further touring exhibitions that make use of the research and digitisation that takes place for the Main Library exhibition and also gives us a chance to bring a different edge to the narrative told.  Newham has an incredible collection of historic photographs, for example, which often bring the content of an item from UCL’s collection to life.

Be sure to check back for further updates and photographs of Special Collection’s outreach work!

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