Decade of Centenaries Community Engagement and Tonagh Ladies’ Book Launch
Four years ago the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum was offered the opportunity for some community engagement funding from the Northern Ireland Museums Council. Since then, the museum has welcomed new audiences to its exhibitions, talks and special events, especially those linked to the Decade of Centenaries. Previously, some of these audiences would not have viewed museums as being places for them. These participants (from Resurgam, Old Warren, Hillhall, Tonagh and Colin) constructed their own exhibition, World War One and Us, created original prose and poetry, developed arts and crafts skills and above all forged strong partnerships with Lisburn Museum. Museum staff have learned so much from participants that these engagements have served as not only to inform us but now act as templates for further projects. Some of this has been showcased in the Community Relation Council’s (CRC) 2017 Updated Decade of Anniversaries Toolkit
Following CRC’s five principles on Decade of Centenaries programmes and adhering to national standards of museum ethics, we facilitated learning, discussed poly histories and encouraged learning in a creative and shared way. Among those helping us to think critically were Dr Eamon Phoenix whose enthusiasm is infectious and Dr Margaret Ward. Two of the many experts who gave of their time and knowledge to help us in our work.
The inter-community exhibition World War One and Us was followed up by the launch on 7 December 2017 of Tonagh Ladies’ book, Inspirational Women of the Rising and US. These projects are testament to the role museums can play in providing safe learning spaces for the sharing of knowledge and the encouragement of discussion and creative expression.
Lisburn Museum may have initiated these developments but it is the people who made the projects what they became. These smart, enthusiastic local people continue to help us develop our own museum practice.