Somerset and Devon Museums win National Lottery Support

A project to bring contemporary artists into eight museums in Somerset and Devon has been awarded more than £80,000 by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Muse: Makers in Museums is led by the South West Heritage Trust in partnership with Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Somerset Art Works and the Community Museums Development Officer for Devon. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, this project will bring contemporary artists into eight museums to respond to their collections with the local community.

Artist Caitlin Heffernan and Chard and District Museum volunteers Gwyneth Jackson and Doreen Toms, in front of the museum’s James Gillingham collections.

The project received £48,600 from Arts Council England and £33,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is supporting the museums to engage exciting contemporary artists from the local area, as well as from further afield. Working with local communities they will create contemporary works inspired by the museum collections. The artworks will go on public display at the museums during Devon Open Studios (9 to 24 September) and Somerset Art Weeks (23 September to 8 October.) Later in the year a group show will take place at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton (November 2017 to January 2018).

Commenting on the award, Rachel Bellamy from the South West Heritage Trust said: “The museums involved are run almost entirely by volunteers. They are passionate about sharing the fascinating collections they look after and the project will support them to do so.

“The project will encourage communities to explore their local history in new ways and we are thrilled that it has received support from National Lottery players.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “We’re very pleased to support this project which provides new experiences for the museums involved and the contemporary artists. These cross-discipline collaborations open up more possibilities for interesting and exciting creative work, benefiting the public, artists and practitioners that work across these boundaries.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support these exciting plans to provide a creative gateway for communities to explore the heritage treasures in their local museums.”

The participating museums in Somerset are Axbridge and District Museum, Bruton Museum, Chard and District Museum, Wells and Mendip Museum, and in Devon they are Axminster Heritage, Teign Heritage Centre, The Museum of Dartmoor Life, and Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum.