The Kent Medway Museum National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) Partnership is a consortium of four museums – The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Canterbury Museums & Galleries, Guildhall Museum Rochester and Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery – the Amelia – funded by Arts Council England (ACE) as a National Portfolio Organisation to work together to deliver excellence in the use of collections and to inspire learning, creativity and wellbeing to existing and new audiences in their communities.
Each partner has developed complimentary skills and experience, together providing geographic coverage across Kent and Medway. They have a proven track record of working together in partnership projects – most recently in both the ‘100 Objects That Made Kent’ project led by The Historic Dockyard Chatham and the Visitor Experience skills project developed jointly by the Guildhall Museum Rochester and Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery.
Individually, each of the partner museums holds significant collections, employ appropriately qualified and skilled staff and deliver outstanding programmes and activities to their visitors and communities. Each however demonstrate separate strengths and experience in programme delivery
Working together, the four partners wish to build further capacity around core strengths – develop new individual strengths through sharing that knowledge and experience between the partners and work more effectively to support the wider Kent Medway Museum Partnership to deliver excellence to existing and new audiences, including children and young people across Kent and Medway.
A range of programmes are being developed that aim to improve the services that museums provide across the county in areas including volunteering with museums, the visitor experience, the role that museums play in health and wellbeing and the role of the arts and artists within the museum sector.
Situated in the heart of Canterbury, The Beaney’s collections cover a broad spectrum, including archaeology, art, world collections and natural history.
One of the strengths of the collection is the sheer eclecticism of it. Particular strengths are Anglo-Saxon (outstanding examples of craftsmanship in jewellery, metalwork and glass including The Canterbury Cross (c850AD) the iconic symbol of the Church of Christianity throughout the Anglican world); Roman (an exceptional collection of beautiful and unusual Roman glassware; World Collections, material brought to Canterbury by intrepid explorers and travellers including items acquired on Captain Cook’s voyages; and a nationally significant collection of works by Canterbury artist Thomas Sidney Cooper, the foremost Victorian painter of English cattle.
In 2013 The Beaney became a national Happy Museum, and won The Collections Trust and Historypin Best Participatory Practice National Award for its Paper Apothecary health and wellbeing project. In February 2016 The Beaney was invited to give evidence to the All Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Arts Health and Wellbeing Enquiry at the House of Lords.
The Guildhall Museum in Rochester is housed in one of the finest 17th century civic buildings in Kent with magnificent plaster ceilings and a superb gilded weather-vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th century warship.
Its collections focus on the history of Medway and include civic silverware and portraits, Napoleonic prisoner of war work, significant Victoriana and material related to the life of Charles Dickens. Collections are also rich with locally-made Romano-British pottery, fossil, local geology, Victorian birdlife and include the tool chest of Benjamin Seaton, the world’s most complete and finest example of an 18th century cabinet-maker’s kit.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Collections comprises 60,000 objects and shares the special story of the Borough through fantastic collections of local history, natural history, Tunbridge ware, costume & textiles, toys and games, photography, folk art, fine art and more. The story of Kent’s spa town is featured throughout the collection, highlighting stories from the decadence of the manor house to the Spartan lifestyle of the humble hop-picker.
With support from Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, the museum, library, art gallery and adjacent Adult Education Centre are currently closed to be redeveloped into a new cultural and learning hub.
Ten Songs for a Lar
‘Ten Songs for a Lar’ is an ambitious new commission presenting multiple audio interpretations of a bronze ‘Lar’ – a household god figurine (dated circa. 200 AD) held in the collections at The Guildhall Museum, Rochester, UK.
Throughout lockdown The Beaney has produced a wide range of digital content for visitors to enjoy from the comfort of their own home. These include:
A web resource designed specifically for teachers wanting to discover more about Kent’s rich history. Follow the link below to enrich your curriculum and enhance your lessons by searching through the 100 objects that made Kent what it is today. You can explore by National Curriculum Key Stage, subject areas, by their period of history or even their museum location.