Hi there, Sammi reporting from China… in the World Cultures Gallery at Ipswich Museum.
Earlier on in the year I began a project to redisplay the Chinese collections in Ipswich. I could relate to many of the objects through my own personal culture and heritage and felt it was a shame that there was little interpretation available. It became a mission of mine to have this in place before I came to the end of the traineeship.
To inform the project, I attended a Chinese and British art exchange exhibition and symposium at the University of Suffolk. The view of the artists and their creations inspired me immensely. Through an artistic approach, many of them were showing the impact of change in China.
Many months were set aside to researching, designing and installing the four display cases. Unfortunately, due to the limited amount of space, I could not display the entire collection. I had to think about what items would be of interest to our audience, including figurines, costumes, weaponry, ceramics and textiles, and decide on the themes connecting them. Being involved in the whole process from start to finish, with the help of all the different teams, I learnt a lot about the exhibition elements involved and about my own heritage too.
It became a clear and natural path for me to connect with the Anglo-Chinese Cultural Exchange (ACCE) charity whilst working on this project. By partnering with this organisation, we were able to open up the museum to a different audience and allow them to be part of our work. I started by running a session at their lunch club, taking some of our objects for them to handle. They in turn shared their stories and knowledge of the items. It seems like a long time ago now that this happened.
Since then, the Chinese displays have been given a new lease of life. Having visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum in London for inspiration and research, I felt a simpler background brought out the detail of the objects. This has worked magnificently in our gallery. The interpretation has been placed on handhelds with bilingual text in both English and Chinese with the assistance of ACCE.
To continue the successful collaboration with ACCE and promote the great work achieved, a ‘Wonders of China’ event was held at Ipswich Museum on Saturday 22 October.
The day included fun filled activities for all the family. VIP guest, the God of Fortune attended and through a shadow puppet show explained the story of the Chinese zodiac. Although it was quite stressful planning the whole day, the wonderful feedback from visitors and staff made it all worthwhile.
It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to encourage diversity within the museum. Having previously volunteered at Karibu Supplementary School and coincidently worked with Ipswich Museum on the Unlocked project a few years ago, I felt a great sense of achievement in supporting their community engagement. I may even look to do further work in this area in the future.
Thanks for reading!