Touchstones Rochdale has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of just under £250,000for an exciting heritage project, being developed as part of the museum and gallery’s major capital redevelopment.
The Dining Room (working title) is a co-curation project, which will see a diverse range of community partners work with Touchstones to curate a new museum space, which will combine the unifying theme of food with the Borough’s collections.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the aim of the project is to transform what used to be a static museum display into a dynamic, evolving collections display, responsive to Rochdale’s rich diversity and creating a sense of ownership over Touchstones.
Twenty paid Community Curators will be recruited through partners Awakening Minds, Theatre in Flow, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing and the Association of Ukrainians Great Britain: Rochdale Branch; with a further ten young people from Rochdale Youth Service invited to act as Young Curators.Touchstones will also work with delivery partner the Co-operative Heritage Trust, a major part of the food heritage story of Rochdale.
Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to support Touchstones with this project that, by working with communities to explore stories of food, will connect local people to the cultural heritage of Rochdale. We know heritage can be a great tool in bringing people together and creating a sense of pride of place, and‘The Dining Room’ will be a wonderful example of that.”
Bryan Beresford, Community and Inclusion Manager at Touchstones said: “Food has played a key role in our community engagement work over the past few years. The Dining Room will enable us to re-tell the story of Rochdale today, through the lens of food and heritage – with and for our local communities. We’reexcited to see how this transformative project reimagines how a museum functions and discover new ways of telling stories.”
Whilst the development work at Touchstones is taking place, the Community Curators will help shape the new Dining Room space by exploring our local collections via the lens of food, identifying aspects of our shared heritage that are missing from our collections, as well as celebrating the everyday objects that have an important place in our lives. This includes contributing to all aspects of the visitor experience, from the food menu to the furniture, andwill develop a programme of events to take place when the new space opens.
They will also work with two artists to create newinstallations for The Dining Room space – a digital installation responding to the sadly destroyed originalstained glass portraits, and a multi-object installation that will suspend food heritage-related objects from the ceiling.
The Young Curators will work with an artist to develop a textile commission referencing Rochdale’s industrial history and test and develop the new heritage learning resources to ensure they are relevant and inspiring for our young visitors.
All participants will take part in sharing days in the community to encourage feedback and take part in a celebration event prior to the building’s re-opening in 2025.