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MGS announces WWI and Strategic Investment Fund awards

Tramway workers stories to be brought to life

MGS announces WWI and Strategic Investment Fund awards

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has announced projects set to receive a share of £310K from their Strategic Investment and WWI funds. The investment will support a wide range of projects from digitising collections to developing the skills of their dedicated volunteers.

The Highlanders Museum in Fort George have secured the biggest sum. They successfully bid for £44K to bring the stories of Highland soldiers to life for online users and to commission an artist to interpret letters, diaries and eye witness accounts from their archive to depict creatively what life was like for the soldiers on the battlefront during WWI.

CultureNL will also take a creative approach to exploring the impact of WWI on Lanarkshire. Working with local schools and artists they will focus on the story of local piper, James Cleland Richardson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts during the Battle of the Somme. Letters and personal accounts of the soldiers of the Highlight Light Infantry 15th (Glasgow Tramways) Battalion will also inspire drama staged in Summerlee’s working tram cars – a poignant setting to recall the stories of the people who worked in the tramways together and signed up to fight in the war side by side.

Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:
“Museums play a vital role in the lives of individuals, families and communities across Scotland. We are pleased to be able to fund projects that allow museums to progress their ambitions to develop their collections and their workforce. I also welcome the opportunities our funding is creating for museums to explore the impact that WWI had on the families who once lived in their communities with the people who live there today.”

MGS is the National Development Body for museums and galleries in Scotland and offers strategic development support to the sector. £227K of the awards came from the MGS Strategic Investment Fund and £81K from their WWI fund. The Strategic Investment Fund allows museums to progress their own organisational development plans. The WWI fund encourages museums to undertake creative approaches with their local communities to exploring the impact of the Great War.

MGS Strategic Investment Fund projects

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Trust / £36,930 / Sustainable Collections
Documenting the items in a collection is essential to the efficient running of a museum. An award to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Trust, based at Stirling Castle, will allow them to update how they record the items in the collection, ensure that there is photographic record of the collection and will see them embrace technology to make some items available to see online and while giving volunteers the chance to develop their skills.

Fife Cultural Trust / £30,817 / Volunteering Development Officer
This MGS grant will create a new Volunteering Development Officer post within Fife Cultural Trust. They will be tasked with setting up a volunteering strategy and framework which will assist staff manage projects that benefit from the support of volunteers. The post holder will co-ordinate recruitment, training, management and rewarding volunteers while supporting staff who are working with them day to day. This project will not only benefit Fife Cultural Trust’s Museums, Archives and Galleries but also the volunteers who will also gain new skills and increased confidence.

Glasgow Women’s Library / £32,932 / Collections Volunteering Programme
It has been a remarkable few months for Glasgow Women’s Library. In December they gained Recognised Collection of National Significance status and in February their Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, Adele Patrick, was named Scotswoman of the Year.
This increased profile alongside a surge of interest in women’s history is bringing lots of new visitors through their doors. Funding from Museums Galleries Scotland will allow GWL to add to and upskill their fantastic team of passionate volunteers enabling them to respond to this increased demand.
GWL will recruit volunteers who face barriers to participation in the museum sector, such as those with English as a Second Language, low levels of literacy, living in poverty, and who for a range of reasons lack cultural and social capital.

The Highlanders Museum / £39,000 / Digitisation Project
By making their collections available online museums make the information they store available to people who are unable to visit. This MGS funded project will allow the Highlanders Museum to photograph and scan objects that will result in an online collection where visitors searching by or details about a soldier will be able to see and explore the objects related to them. The project will bring the collection and the stories behind it to life.

Helmsdale Heritage Society / £36,188 / Museum for the North
MGS has awarded funding to allow Timespan to develop plans to change its current museum exhibitions in a way that will maximise its collection, strengthen local and international collaborations. The new exhibitions will focus on the concept of North.

South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Ltd /£19,140/ Looking to the Future
The Cameronians collection at Hamilton’s Low Parks Museum spans a wide variety of objects from all over the world that trace the history of a unique regiment. The collection contains many personal items which belonged to officers and soldiers of the Regiment, such as letters, diaries, and eyewitness accounts. However, much of this important archive is still relatively unexplored. This MGS funding will allow the museum to catalogue the archive, ensuring its preservation while laying the foundations for further digitisation projects to add to the museum’s online collections browser and website.

West Dunbartsonshire Council / £32,053 / Clydebank Museum Exhibition redisplay and gallery expansion
Located in Clydebank Town Hall, Clydebank Museum and Gallery tells the story of the area’s proud industrial heritage as well as housing the Council’s permanent exhibition of fine art and hosting touring exhibitions. MGS has awarded funding for the Council to purchase new museum-standard display that will double the amount of space they have to display objects. The Museum plans to consult with local communities on what will be displayed and how they are interpreted.

WWI fund

Aberdeen City Council / Visions of Remembrance / £20,000
The Remembrance Hall and Memorial Court was built in 1926 to commemorate the lives lost during the Great War. Aberdeen Art Gallery will bring the Hall of Remembrance into the heart of the Gallery and the funds from MGS will support the creation of digital art for the Hall. The Council is working with veterans groups and serving members of the armed forces on the project which will draw attention to the purpose of the Hall creating a new focal point for reflection and remembrance and allowing a new audience to consider the lives lost and sacrifices made, focussing on WWI and contemporary impacts of conflict.

The Black Watch Museum / First World War Trench and Poppies / £8,700
The Black Watch Museum will host the Poppies: Weeping Window art installation from June to September. Funding from MGS will allow them to augment the experience, particularly for younger visitors by providing activities for them to enjoy while also encouraging learning about the symbolism of the poppy. The museum also plans to recreate a WWI trench which will allow visitors to learn what life was like for soldiers in the trenches.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar/ £19,865 / Iolaire 100 years
The sinking on 1 January 1919 of His Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire was one of the worst maritime disasters in United Kingdom waters during the 20th century. It was bringing sailors who had fought in WWI back home to Lewis but sank as the ship approached the port of Stornoway. At least 205 perished of whom 181 were islanders. With funding from MGS Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will explore the social legacy that the tragic event had on the Western Isles through a collaboration between museums, artists and local publishers.

Culture NL / £3,000 / North Lanarkshire War: Exploring the Somme
CultureNL is planning to help local school children learn more about how WWI affected their ancestors and local community. Working with local schools and artists they will tell the story of Lanarkshire and the Battle of the Somme through talks drama, music and visual art. Focussing on the story of a local piper who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts during the battle and on the moving stories of the Highlight Light Infantry 15th (Glasgow Tramways) Battalion using Summerlee’s working tram cars as the setting for interpretive drama.

*The Highlanders’ Museum */ £5,289 / The Highlander’s War: An Artists Interpretation
From MGS’s WWI fund the Highlanders Museum will commission an artist to interpret letters, diaries and eye witness accounts from their WWI archive. The project will be a new way to understand what life was like for a soldier on the battlefront during WWI.

*The Ian McIntosh Memorial Trust */ £7,894 / The War in the Air 1914 to 1918
The funding form MGS will support the Trust to host a two day family event at Montrose Air Station to take place in August 2016.The volunteer run organisation will work with local schools to explore the social impact of ww1 on the lives of the local people.

Royal Burgh of Lanark Museum Trust / £2,460 / Clydesdale at War
MGS will support the museum to undertake visits to local schools and community groups to discuss the impact of WWI on Clydesdale. Through discussions and looking at objects from the collection the museum plans to understand the effect the war had on their ancestors.

South Ayrshire Council /£7,870/ Inspiring Landscapes
Using the Council’s collection of prints by renowned WW1 war artist, David Muirhead Bone as a focus, this project will combine research into the power of print during the war, as well as providing people with the chance to experience printmaking first-hand using the local landscape and built environment as their inspiration.

University of Glasgow / £7,443 / Erskine 100
From October 2016 – Jan 2017, The Hunterian will host an exhibition celebrating 100 years of Erskine Hospital. Erskine was founded in 1916 in response to the need for specialised medical facilities to care for limbless sailors and soldiers in WWI. As part of the Glasgow University’s Great War programme, the University has recently acquired the Erskine Hospital Archive. The MGS award will fund a programme of events to encourage in greater understanding of the collection’s importance the highlight being an evening event in November 2016.

Published 26 May 2016