The Bath Museums Community Engagement project is a collaboration between the Bath Preservation Trust, the Holburne Museum and the American Museum in Britain. The museums are all committed to working in partnership with community groups representing diverse and new audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Since September 2013, a programme of exciting, arts-based projects has been run, funded by the Arts Council England.

Projects have included:

Freshart@ Hillview

Run in collaboration with Creativity WorksAvon & Wiltshire Healthcare Partnership TrustSirona & St Mungo’s.

Allowed space and time to be myself and be creative in a well-supported inspiring environment.” (Project participant)

This project created new artwork to be displayed at the Hillview Lodge acute psychiatric unit at Royal United Hospital, Bath. The participants were people affected by mental health challenges or their friends or family members and the work presents people with lived experience of mental health challenges in a positive light, breaking down the stigma often associated with this subject.

The original idea behind the project came from Nat Burgess, a service user at Hillview Lodge who wanted to give something back to the ward and saw that fresh artwork in regularly rotated displays would promote conversation and wellbeing. Read an article by Nat about his brilliant idea here.

In addition, the project workshops have provided an opportunity for participants to build their skills and confidence and take pride in the display of their work.

The project consisted of fourteen workshops led by two professional artists and was held in inspiring museum settings. The participants had the chance to explore these fascinating collections as well as create their work in unique spaces.

Before the artwork was put on display at Hillview Lodge, a public exhibition was held at the Building of Bath Collection.

St Mungo’s Screenprinting Project

Run in collaboration with St Mungo’s Broadway

I wasn’t sure whether to do this but I’m really glad I did. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done” (St Mungo’s participant)

This partnership helped build the confidence and life skills of St Mungo’s clients by supporting them to design and print their own T shirts to sell to support their gardening social enterprise project. Clients from other support groups in Bath also took part in the six workshops.

The participants, who can experience social isolation and lack of confidence as a result of their health needs, had the opportunity to work collaboratively and feel connected and valued in their local community. Being surrounded by the stunning museum collections gave a chance to experience wellbeing, happiness and creativity.

Bath Play Area Project

A collaboration with BAPP.

The staff are just so friendly here, they are really nice to talk to.” (BAPP parent)

Early consultation meetings between BAPP and the museums identified the need for bonding and creative, new and exciting experiences for the families away from their usual base.

Following outreach visits, a carefully devised programme of free play and art and craft activities was offered at the museums over four sessions. Visits to look at aspects of the collections were included and all the activities were designed to help the families enjoy and understand the museums.

Age UK Ceramics Project

A partnership with Age UK.

A wonderful course, relaxing, improving dexterity and meeting new people, a wonderful insight into the museums of Bath.” (Age UK participant)

Through initial outreach visits, members of both Bath and Keynsham Age UK groups were encouraged to choose an art form they would like to explore. The most popular choice was ceramics so, working with a professional artist over nine sessions, the participants learned about the museums’ ceramics collections and created their own tea service. They celebrated the culmination of the project with a joyful tea party at No.1 Royal Crescent.

Key Numbers:

  • 10 months of planning and doing

  • 5 participating museum sites – No.1 Royal Crescent, the Holburne Museum, the American Museum in Britain, the Museum of Bath Architecture & the Herschel Museum of Astronomy

  • 7 external partners

  • 38 workshops

  • 107 participants

  • Over 100 contact hours