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Prince Philip Maritime Collection Centre

Royal Museums Greenwich have a world class collection of maritime history, stored and cared for in a purpose built Collections Centre in Kidbooke. In 2019 Mat Cahill, Collections Learning Programme Producer, used the HODs theme of People Power to build a fantastic community centred public launch for the site and their work.

© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. - Hidden treasures of the collection were revealed on special community curated tours for HODs

Mat Cahill - Collections Learning Programme Producer / Royal Museums Greenwich, London

Why we take part

To make our collection and site accessible to new audiences as well using the platform to support and promote the great work our neighbouring community groups do.

What we do for HODs

This year’s HODs consisted of two days of free tours of our sites including a specialist tour curated by local community groups. Using the theme of People Power, we worked with 8 different groups to search the collection and find items which tell a story that represents their community. We had a range of items from Dominoes from the Napoleonic war selected by the Caribbean Forum, charts from 1456 selected by Greenwich Yacht Club, fire places and prints selected from Greenwich and Eltham Society as well as most unusually a pair of knickers from Lee Green W.I

The Caribbean Social Forum hosted 'games without wires' / © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Each tour concluded in our specially designed Mystery Story Store which is a space where visitors could voice their stories and their connection to the collection. A story teller was commissioned to write a specific story to inform the public about the history of the area and the importance of collecting. The space facilitated all ages to leave their narrative in either written or performative forms.

On the Saturday we also invited all the community groups to present an activity that links to the objects they selected. This led to the Caribbean Social Forum hosting a games without wires event. The aim of this was to draw the different communities together through the act of playing. This also supported the forum in sharing their culture with ‘outsiders’. The Lee Green W.I. held a craft group supporting their ethos on being creative, being resourceful and eco friendly. Other societies and groups used the event to present their forthcoming activities and events.

The difference it's made

I believe that we learnt how to facilitate others voices through the participation of HOD this year. We have built nearly 200 new working relationships with the local community which is huge considering we have been a closed site for so long.

Everyone can add their own stories to the Mystery Story Store / © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Favourite bit

The 5 months leading up to the event was nerve wrecking but a fun part of the process. I truly loved researching the objects with the local community groups. My favourite part was discovering items in our collection, which we didn’t know much about.  The one item that comes to mind is a pair of knickers which all we previously knew about them was the fact they had been given to a curator when visiting HMS Invincible. Myself and the local W.I. discovered that these knickers had come from a campaign ran by the Sun newspaper. We all enjoyed the chase of the investigation.

Nice surprise

I was surprised how much the adults enjoyed the story store. It was meant to be a child friendly space where kids could touch artefacts and tell stories. On the last day I had to kick out a group BIG kids who had been in there for hours. It was so much fun seeing adults rediscover their inner child and sense of exploration.

Top Tip!

If you have a crazy idea like our story store and you think it's just that little bit out there. Don’t be scared, do it as the public will see your passion and enthusiasm within it.

Inspired? Find out more...