Mayoral tribute to staff and volunteers of Winchester’s museums

Press Release: 24/11/2014

Musuem staff and volunteers

As councils across the country continue to explore new ways of delivering services for their residents, last week formally marked a change of era for Winchester City Council’s museums team.

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eileen Berry, held a special reception at Abbey House on 19 November to pay tribute to the work of the staff who transferred earlier this month to the new Hampshire Cultural Trust.

The Trust – created jointly by Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council for the purpose - will now be caring for the museums and collections of the Winchester District. Commenting on her love of history and her great enjoyment of the museums, Cllr Berry said she felt there was an exciting future ahead:

With a growing population in Winchester and an enduring public passion for local history, I can only see our museums getting bigger and better in the years to come. I would urge all of you to be ambitious in your thinking for our District, as you find your feet in a new organisation with bright new ideas.

The invited staff had between them spent decades conserving, exhibiting, interpreting and recording the widely renowned collections held by the Council.

Highlights over the past decade alone have included the showing of the ‘Winchester Hoard’ at City Museum and the ‘Treasures of Hyde’ exhibition at the Discovery Centre.

The introduction of ‘City Space’, run by the Council within the Discovery Centre to showcase local arts and history, was another milestone and has proved a hit with local audiences
Collaboration with local people led to the creation of Hyde Abbey Garden to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2003, and a raft of respected academic publications produced in partnership with English Heritage will underpin knowledge and understanding of the country’s past for decades still to come.

Chief Executive Simon Eden spoke of the importance of the collective work of the team in telling the story of Winchester, and telling it in a way that inspired people of all ages and backgrounds.

He also commended the tireless work of the many volunteers who supported staff both behind the scenes – washing, ordering and cataloguing finds – and ‘front of house’ in the museums and out at schools, community venues and village shows.

The volunteers, ranging in age from students of Winchester College to long-standing members of WARG (the society for Winchester archaeology and local history), were invited to the reception and will continue to support the staff team under the umbrella of Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Cllr Mike Southgate, Portfolio Holder for Museums and also the Council’s nominated trustee on the new Trust’s board, spoke of his belief that the bringing together of the collections and staff of the Winchester District with the wider County would enable a more powerful story to be told in future. He commented:

Mergers have always been about bringing out the strengths in each partner to create a new and more effective organisation. I have already seen with my own eyes that members of the public are keen to support the Trust, and I know the Trust will want to meet the expectations of visitors old and new.

The Mayor’s guests enjoyed the evening, fittingly surrounded by some of the most splendid objects from the Winchester collections which are – and will continue to be – on show in Abbey House.