For the first time in its history, the city’s Prison and Police Museum will have a professional curator and no longer have to rely just on the support of volunteers, thanks to a £70,000 grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.
The curator will develop underused collections and help visitors connect with them. The museum will also have a new online catalogue to make collections fully accessible.
Director James Etherington said: “We have a catalogue, but it is not fully up to museum standards. It is not accessible to the public, researchers and volunteers for them to make full use of it. This funding will make a huge difference.
“Our volunteers have done an amazing job, but having a professional will bring us up to cutting-edge practices. We are passionate about having a digital presence and we are keen to use the grant as an opportunity to connect with rural communities who don’t have access to get to Ripon to connect with the collections.
“We have been good at connecting the past to the present to this point, but now we are keen to explore new ways to connect the present to the past.
“We are all absolutely over the moon to have been awarded this grant, and it is something that we have wanted for quite a long time.”
The latest developments are part of a joint project with Bradford Police Museum.
James said: ”We were one of seven organisations selected out of fifty-four who applied for this grant so it is amazing that we have got the money. Our collection contains a range of intriguing items, for instance the Commission investigating the Hillsborough Disaster consulted the Ripon Museums’ collection to find a rare police training manual from shortly before the Disaster which became part of the evidence used in the inquiry.
“We were the only collection in which they were able to find this key piece of evidence.”
The curator will also be responsible for training volunteers to care for collections in the future, from basic conservation care to cataloguing standards.
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