Six museums and galleries across England part of new project celebrating the essential work of security staff during lockdown
Launching 13 July 2020, a new six-part audio series The Caretakers will offer the public a rare glimpse into life for UK museum and gallery security staff and those maintaining buildings and collections during lockdown. Delivered by contemporary artist Eloise Moody, and supported by arts organisation Metal – each episode will be broadcast daily by the partner organisations and Metal via social media.
Eloise Moody conceived the idea for The Caretakers as a way to give voice to workers whose knowledge of museum collections and cultural buildings often goes unheard. Six museums and galleries across England are participating:
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Museum of London
Royal Museums Greenwich
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
The Caretakers will offer listeners a sneak peek of their beloved collections, ahead of the gradual reopening of the sector following lockdown. Each episode centres on one object, chosen and narrated by a member of a security or maintenance team, offering a reimagined take on the traditional curator-led tour format. The series offers rare access into the hidden worlds of museums and galleries and the people that have been looking after them during the Covid-19 pandemic with diligence, passion and deep commitment to our heritage.
The provenance of objects in the series will be revealed the day after the audio recording is released to encourage an alternative and more contemplative approach to engaging with culture.
Listeners are encouraged to create and submit their own creative responses to the collections featured, to generate an online gallery of reimagined treasures, created by the public – @caretakertales.
Eloise Moody, Project Curator, said: “With the closure of museums and arts organisations throughout the country, the people with access to the nation’s cultural treasures are security and caretaking teams. At a time when previously overlooked workers are recognised as essential, The Caretakers extends this re-framing of importance and reliance to the cultural sector.
While security and caretaking staff are the only people allowed inside our national museums and galleries, ‘The Caretakers’ allow us to perch invisibly on their shoulders, seeing what takes their interest and noticing what they stop to consider. We are granted a personal tour offering fresh perspectives on suspended collections.”
Andrea Cunningham, Assistant Director at Metal Southend, said: “One of Metal’s chief aims is to support artists in strengthening their practice and amplifying their voices. The Caretakers project, conceived by artist Eloise Moody, is a powerful opportunity to amplify those marginalised voices working in the cultural sector in a beautiful and intriguing way at a moment in history that is reframing all our thinking.”E
About Eloise Moody
Eloise Moody is a socially engaged artist, often making finely made objects that find their way into the public domain. She has worked with Kew Gardens, Metal Peterborough and The London Wetland Centre amongst others. Before this she was a hat-maker and her hats could be seen at London and Paris fashion weeks as well as on film, theatre and television. eloisemoody.com
Metal was founded by Jude Kelly OBE in 2002, working with current Artistic Director and CEO, Colette Bailey since its inception. Metal has been active in Liverpool since 2004, in Southend-on Sea since 2007 and in Peterborough since 2012. In each place, Metal works from buildings of historic significance that have been transformed from empty or derelict spaces into vibrant cultural community hubs. Metal support artists, locally, from across the UK and overseas, working in all disciplines, at all career levels, providing opportunities for emerging artists, alongside hosting artists-in-residence and running intensive, week-long Culture LAB’s for peer-to-peer learning and exchange. They create large-scale, participatory projects that respond to our immediate environment and involve people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Metal operates through a wide range of partnerships, ranging from Arts Council England, local authorities, regional agencies, Music Hubs, Bridge organisations and many more. They also have strong working relationships with a wide range of other arts organizations, community groups, schools and HE and FE institutions. www.metalculture.com
About Birmingham Museums Trust
Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 1 million objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities that deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city.
The collection is one of the three great civic collections of the UK, reflecting the city’s historic and continuing position as a major international centre for manufacturing, commerce, education and culture. Most areas of the collection are designated as being of national importance, including the finest public collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world.
Attracting over one million visits a year, Birmingham Museums venues are Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collection Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. birminghammuseums.org.uk
In June 2019 Birmingham Museums Trust was crowned Overall Winner of Excellence at The Charity Awards 2019 for its Collecting Birmingham project, which empowered the people of Birmingham to take an active role in developing the collection. Find out more here.
About Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark is the last-surviving tea clipper and one of the world’s most famous ships. It reopened to the public in April 2012, marking a new chapter in its extraordinary life. Visitors to this beautiful three-masted clipper can venture aboard and walk along the decks in the footsteps of the merchant seamen who sailed the ship over a century ago, explore the hold where precious cargo was stored on epic voyages, and view the elegant lines of the hull as they walk underneath in the dry berth of this 963-tonne ship.
Cutty Sark is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the 17th-century Queen’s House. This unique collection of museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over two and a half million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. For more information, visit www.rmg.co.uk.
About Kettle’s Yard
Kettle’s Yard is one of Britain’s best galleries – a beautiful and unique house with a distinctive modern art collection, and a gallery exhibiting modern and contemporary art. Supporting this is an established learning and community engagement programme, archive, and programme of chamber concerts. In February 2018, Kettle’s Yard reopened after a two year development by architect Jamie Fobert. The new Kettle’s Yard includes state of the art new exhibition galleries, generous education spaces, a café and new welcome areas. Kettle’s Yard’s mission is to contribute to society by inspiring and engaging audiences through art, learning and research of the highest quality. We believe that great art should not be the privilege of the few, but for everyone. Our values reflect Kettle’s Yard’s creator Jim Ede’s support for artists and belief in art’s power to make us look again and change how we act in the world. While Kettle’s Yard is temporarily closed we are very much open online, see https://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/kettles-yard-at-home/ to discover how you can enjoy Kettle’s Yard from home.
About the Museum of London
The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
You can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added. www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
About Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
The University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM) is one of the finest archaeological and ethnographic teaching museums in the world. Founded in 1884, when General Pitt Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, donated his collection of more than 27,000 objects to the University of Oxford, it now stewards over 550,000 objects. These collections of historical, social and ritual significance are of an extraordinary range and depth, including great works of art, invention and design from around the world. The Museum carries out world-leading conservation and research and welcomes half a million visitors each year. It is currently focused on developing more socially engaged practice with the emphasis on inclusivity. Today, the Museum is a dynamic, forward-looking institution with many connections to stakeholders throughout the world. Press Contact: Louise Hancock, Marketing and Media Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org. 01865 613017.
About Southend Museums
Southend Museums is a local authority governed museum service containing four sites. Central Museum and planetarium, the Beecroft Art Gallery and two beautifully unique Grade I listed medieval buildings set in municipal parks; Prittlewell Priory and Southchurch Hall. The museum holds high quality local and natural history collections as well as significant collections around the local internationally known brand EKCO Radio and a rich and varied Fine Art collection including works by John Constable, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Southend Museum Service also holds several collections of national and international significance such as the largest collection of historic swimwear in the UK, the Anglo Saxon Prittlewell Princely Burial, and the 17th century London Shipwreck.’ www.southendmuseums.co.uk