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Kent-Medway Museum Partnership

Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO)

The Kent Medway 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.

The Partners

The Beaney

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

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

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.

The projects

Commission Call-Out for Musicians and Sound Artists (International)

The Kent Medway Museums National Portfolio Organisation Partnership (KMM NPO) are seeking proposals from musicians, song writers, sound artists, poets, and those working with sound to create new audio artworks to be accessioned as permanent artefacts within the museum collections. ‘Ten Songs for a Lar’ is an ambitious new commission searching for 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. Successful artists will receive £1,000 per selected track (inclusive of VAT). The deadline for submissions is: 15th June 12pm (BST).

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The Beaney

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 daily blog entry from Museum & Galleries staff, partners and communities across the District to document daily life during the Museum’s closure. At the end of this experience The Beaney will put all the blog entries together to make one document that will be accessioned into the collection so there is a record of the lives of some of the people living in the district during this difficult time.
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  • Regular online Museum Quizzes for children. There are 4 quizzes to choose from: Anglo-Saxon & Viking, Maverick Medievals, Exciting Egyptians and Roaring Romans quiz
  • Open Calls for “Museum of You”. Museum of You will be an exhibition at The Beaney celebrating the experiences of the community during lockdown, and is open to submissions from everyone, from established artists to the newly creative. There are 6 call outs, with a new one being announced every two weeks. FIND OUT MORE
  • For children and families – “Museums with Murray” videos, giving an introduction to some of the most interesting and important objects in the collection. Each video comes with an accompanying downloadable pack of creative activities that children and families can do together. All of the packs can be found here.
  • A fortnightly Health & Wellbeing newsletter based on the 6 ways to wellbeing provides visitors of all ages with activities that can be done at home to improve their Health and Wellbeing. FIND OUT MORE
  • Monthly webinars for creative and health professionals focusing on Heritage, Health & Wellbeing. FIND OUT MORE

The 100 Objects that made Kent

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.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Notice to Visitors

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust welcomes the news that museums and visitor attractions are able to reopen to visitors from 4 July.

We are actively planning to welcome visitors back to the Dockyard as soon as we are safely able to do so but this will be some time after 4 July.

We will make a further announcement to confirm the exact date as soon as we can.

In the meantime, much of Dockyard life has never stopped. Master Ropemakers has started operating again and we are taking forward bookings for filming, group travel and hospitality, including weddings. Call the Midwife Official Location Tours will resume shortly.

We would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.

Last updated: 25 June 2020

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