I've been working on some interesting projects recently, trying to find ways to get our collections out and about whilst our building is closed for redevelopment. A museum of course, is much more then a building, so we should be able to find plenty of ways for people to engage with collections, heritage and museumy things during the redevelopment.
The first of these is The Bedford High Street History Project -
Bedford High Street History Project was inspired by a BBC One series broadcast in the Autumn of 2010, Turn Back Time - The High Street. This showed how shops changed radically between the Victorian era and the 1970's. The programme makers also invited members of the public to investigate and record the history of shopping in their own locality. So with a great deal of help from Margaret Badley, a group of researchers* was set up to investigate the history of Bedford High Street.
This has been a great opportunity to pull together the reams of information about shops in our High Street which was scattered between Bedford Library, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS), Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum and the Historic Environment Record (HER). All of these are open to the public for further research apart from the Art Gallery & Museum which is closed for redevelopment until late 2012.
The results of all of this research can be seen in an exhibition at Bedford Central Library, which runs from 16th - 28th May 2011.
You can also access some oral history interviews, photographs and view some artefacts from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum Collections on a dedicated blog we have put together. If you happen to be walking along the High Street, have a look out for our QR Code posters. These should be up in Goldings, Harrison & Simmonds, The Skills Bank, Allders Opticians and Debenhams. So far there are only five stops on our QR Code tour, but we hope to add a few more in time..
If you would like to know more about what QR Codes are and how they work - have a look here.
*Stuart Antrobus, Terry Darlow, David Fowler, Sally Heard, Hilary McDonald, Cathy Moorhouse, Elizabeth Mortimer, Jennifer Salter and Barry Stephenson.