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Innovative new project connects Blackhall with years of history

Nov 5, 2021 | Leisure & Lifestyle

East Durham Creates is working together with Durham University on an innovative new project which connects a former mining village in East Durham to thousands of years of history in the university’s collection.

As we emerged from lockdown in 2020 local arts engagement project East Durham Creates joined forces with Durham University for a project called Street Gallery. The project took place in Dawdon and encouraged local people to curate their own exhibition and turn the windows of their home into an art gallery that could be viewed from the street and included artwork by local artists and from the University’s collections.

Following a successful funding application to the Museum Associations Digital Innovations and Engagement fund the University’s Culture team have returned to East Durham to work together with East Durham Creates’ and their local Cultural Hub Blackhall Community Centre to design a project that brings the University’s Museum collections to the streets of Blackhall.

Street Museum will engage the community of Blackhall to connect to thousands of years of history, curating a walking trail around the village that will include 3D printed replicas of objects being printed and showcased in the windows of local homes and businesses, as well as the library and community centre. The community will decide what bit of history to bring to life in their community and over the next six months work together with the University to design this street based exhibition.

The project launches with a ‘Hands on History’ day at Blackhall Community Centre on Thursday 28th October between 12-4pm where local families can explore different periods of history, handle real objects from the collection and help to shape where the project goes next.

Jess Hunt, Project Lead for East Durham Creates said: “This is an amazing opportunity for people in East Durham to connect with the amazing collections of the University right on their doorsteps and bring something to their communities which is normally only seen in museums and cities.”

Alison Paterson, Manager of Blackhall Community Centre said: “We’ve worked together with East Durham Creates for many years now to develop our centre as a place where culture happens and it’s fantastic to be making this new relationship with Durham University. We are definitely going for Blackhall getting the Village of Culture title!”

Alison added. “This project is all about connecting our community with the culture that’s out there in the wider county and having them shape it and experience it in a way that is really relevant to them! ”

Ged Matthews, Cultural Engagement Manager for Durham University said: “We are really committed to doing more in the wider county with communities who might not always have the opportunity to access or engage with our fantastic collections or us as a University – this is just the first of many really innovative projects we intend to run with communities like Blackhall.”

*** Pictures courtesy of Alan Sill. ***