‘Greater in Spirit, Larger in Outlook’ Project

Epping Forest District and Saffron Walden Museums are proud to announce that they have secured a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England (ACE) to reinterpret, reinvestigate and redisplay their world culture collections.

Object focus

The Buxton collection was donated to Epping Forest District Museum by the family of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 3rd Baronet, grandson of noted abolitionist Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet.

The 3rd Baronet’s family were heavily involved in philanthropic, missionary and political work throughout the world, and the collection reflects this, with objects from West and East Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Saffron Walden has the largest world culture collection in Essex. Many of these objects were transferred here from other museums in the county. Saffron Walden had curatorial expertise in this area, so the work of this project could well be relevant to other museums who once held these objects in their collections.

Community focus

Collaborating with diaspora communities in Essex and Greater London, such as the Ethiopian History Society UK and the Pacific Islands Society of the UK and Ireland (PISUKI), we aim to reinterpret and redisplay this significant collection, as well as use the objects as vehicles to bring out stories significant to communities.

Central aims of this project include increasing social inclusion, encouraging an appreciation of diversity in all its forms, and pioneering how small to medium sized local museums can implement community led co-curation projects and address anti-racism. We will share our learning from this project across the sector.

This project will ensure a legacy of inclusivity and representation in both institutions. The funding covers two part-time, 18-month project posts, one with a collection and one with a community engagement focus for which we aim to recruit people from diverse backgrounds.

We are delighted to partner with Epping Forest District and Saffron Walden Museums for this vital project.

Ethiopian History Society UK

The project is two stage, with Phase 1 being a permanent display of the Ethiopian objects in 2022, followed by a co-curated Phase 2 temporary exhibition exploring the entirety of the Buxton collection, with the addition of relevant objects from Saffron Walden in 2023. The posts will also lead on the development of formal and informal learning resources and the improvement of object documentation in both institutions.

So please do keep an eye out for updates!

We are all looking forward to starting the project and sharing more with Museums Essex in due course.

Ian Channell (Collections Officer, EFDM)

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