Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stories of Our Past

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are very proud to be hosting an event run by the Mental Health Museum this Friday.  We have asked Cara Sutherland, the curator of the MHM what the event is going to be all about...

The Stories of Our Past talk this Friday at 5pm is one not to be missed - why? Because it brings together our past with our present. As part of Mental Health Awareness week 2016, we will take a look at the stories of people who experienced the Wakefield Asylum and how their stories can tell us more about own lives and the society we live in today. 

So here's where I sell the event to you...

I’m going to be honest with you and say that I love my job...a lot. Our collection aims to tell the complex and fascinating story of mental health care in the UK over the last 200 years and to use this story to combat stigma and prejudice surrounding mental health. We see that as our shared responsibility. 

Responsibility is an interesting thing; it can be intimidating at times but ultimately it can be empowering, especially when its shared. At the MHM, we have a duty of care to the objects we have in our collection. We have a duty of care to the memories and lived experiences of people who are still with us, as well as to those who are now part of our history. We share this responsibility with the people we engage.

Letter: This shows the front of a Reception Order which shows the way these documents were folded to create an envelope
Our collection is underpinned by peoples' stories and although our objects can't actually talk, as in a Disney film (much to my sadness), they do speak to us. They tell us of the places and times they were part of, and just as much about the missing stories and hidden histories as they do about the ones we know. 

A perfect example of this is Mary Frances Heaton's samplers. A fascinating jigsaw of symbols, stitched letters and fragments of a broken heart. Her story is there, in the midst of our objects and the archives from her time in the Asylum, but this jigsaw still needs to be pieced together. 
Sampler: A sampler by Mary Frances Heaton's who was a patient at the Wakefield Asylum

Local author David Scrimgeour has been piecing together and meticulously transcribing the stories of patients like Mary over the last few years. His book Proper People has recently been published and is a fascinating insight into the people who are at the heart of the history of mental health care. David's research has unearthed some of the Asylum's hidden histories and has solved some of the MHM's mysteries. David has been part of our wider responsibility to really look at our past to better understand our future. 
David will be sharing some of these stories with you and talking about his experiences of researching the Wakefield Asylum archives. You will hear more about Mary and get to know more about the MHM collection. We would love for you to come along to this FREE talk and share in our responsibility to better understand, protect and engage with our history. 

David Scrimgeour, author of Proper People
Join us Friday 20th 5pm-7pm at Wakefield One. Booking is recommended, but not essential.  To book, call 01924 302700 or email.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Exciting news about Pontefract Museum

Pontefract Museum is to undergo the final part of a £102,000 refurbishment programme - which will enable it to display objects from national collections.

The museum will be temporarily closed from Monday 16 May 2016 until Saturday 30 July, to enable phase two of the work to be completed.


The second phase of the work will see £52,000 invested in new displays themed around medieval Pontefract, the story of liquorice and the Civil War.

An activity area will also be created to encourage schools, families and the local community to get involved with the collections.


The change will mean that the museum will be able to loan exhibits from national museums such as the British Museum.

The Arts Council England and Museums Development Yorkshire have invested a total of £102,000 in the museum over the last two years.

Work on the first phase saw new lighting, improvements to the entrance area and an upgrade and extension to the special exhibitions gallery


Cllr Les Shaw said: “The redevelopments taking place at the Museum are particularly exciting as they will enable us to bring significant loans from national museums such as the British Museum and The Royal Armouries to Pontefract for the first time”.

During the temporary closure there will be a small museum display with information about the redevelopment at Pontefract Library.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spring Bank Holiday fun!

There is a lot going on over the Spring Bank Holiday. 

Click on our planner below for highlights, or follow this link for the full museums listing.

Click on image to enlarge