A rare opportunity to involve the residents of Kirklees in developing a vision for a new museum and art gallery for Huddersfield has resulted in a rich and informative report.
Published recently by the council, the report provides a wide range of views on heritage as well as enthusiastic support from the public for a new museum and gallery.
The project, carried out by the Museums and Galleries Team, was produced as part of the National Lottery Heritage funded Bringing out the Best – a strategic programme focusing on long term measures to strengthen and support heritage locally. This includes museum sites and collections managed by Kirklees Council, as well as broader heritage activity.
The survey received over 700 responses. This was in addition to feedback from one-to-one interviews with targeted charity leaders, representatives of organisations and focus groups with underrepresented audiences. All of which was carried out online due to challenges conducting face to face engagement during Covid-19 restrictions.
This additional level of targeted engagement enabled more people to give their views, with valuable feedback gained from those who never or rarely visited museum sites.
Findings showed people are very keen to be involved in the development of heritage across Kirklees from the offset and wish to share their stories with us. 87% of survey respondents were very interested or interested in visiting a new museum and gallery in the centre of Huddersfield in the future with all one-to-one interviewees, and the vast majority of focus group participants, eager to see this developed further. Overall the most popular theme for displays and exhibitions was Textile Heritage and Innovation and also of importance was Local Lives.
Popular words to describe an ethos for a new museum and gallery were welcoming, accessible, community, relevant and inclusive, reflecting the need for the museum to provide contemporary stories and ensure future relevance and inspiration for all communities.
“This feedback shows how important culture and heritage is to our communities, and supports our efforts to put it at the heart of our recovery from Covid-19 and our plans for the regeneration of our borough.Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees
“As well as our work on the new museum and gallery, this engagement will help to inform the development of the draft heritage strategy for Kirklees, plans for the Cultural Heart, the Huddersfield Blueprint, masterplans for existing museum and gallery sites and long term strategic planning.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to all participants, who gave their time to fill out the survey and talk to us in detail through focus groups and one to one sessions. The ideas, enthusiasm, commitment and the desire to work with us in the future is very exciting.”
The full report can be found at https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/museums-report.