Time and Tide – community consultation leads the way

October 2, 2010

Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth was established through a process of community consultation about six years ago and the community is still involved in setting the agenda for the museum.

I had a tour of the museum with James Steward. He explained to me that the idea for the museum – which explores the history of the town with a special focus on the herring industry – came from the local community, and that their input was sought through the entire process, including themes for displays as well as the ways in which the stories are told.

The consultation process revealed that people were most interested in seeing the town’s recent past documented, so the focus is on the period after the Second World War. The Museum is located in an old herring curing factory, and interpretation of the site and the industry is the primary theme of the museum (although you can also learn about everything from ancient times to the local circus).

James explained that the consultation process continues with a team of  ‘Community Curators’ which meets regularly to discuss the public programs and proposed acquisitions.

Volunteer Jackie is using collection objects to conduct reminiscence sessions, which can be recorded with permission and used in future interpretation

The day I visited was a day where museums nationally were presenting activities for older people, and James introduced me to museum volunteer Jackie, who was looking after the local shop, and collecting stories from visitors about their recollections of local shops and produce. These stories then become part of the museum’s collection and can be used later to help interpret collection objects. This is another way in which the voices of the community – rather than that of the curator – can be presented in the museum.

3 Responses to “Time and Tide – community consultation leads the way”

  1. Pauline Cockrill Says:

    What a great idea to have Community Curators – how are these chosen? How many? Are they all different ages? And how does Jackie collect the stories from the visitors to her shop display? Does she write them down or are they collected on a tape/digital recorder?


    • I gather that there are about a dozen Community Curators who meet. The majority come from the volunteers and friends groups. Not sure about age groups – would be interesting to know.

      Jackie had a microphone and recorder with her for recording the stories. They are then kept in an archive for use in interpretation and programs.

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