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Academics from the University of Chester and the Open University will embark on a project of almost £100,000 after a successful funding bid to deliver the one-year initiative bringing historical artefacts to life while challenging perceptions of the past.

The partners will create a public exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, featuring Virtual Reality, bringing to light objects that have never been exhibited before and showcasing the work of school students. The fund will also provide the opportunity to create Object Boxes with medieval and early modern artefacts from the Grosvenor’s collection to be loaned to primary and secondary schools.

The project is funded in the main by an UK Research and Innovation Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow on Funding Grant for Impact and Engagement, with a contribution from the University of Chester, and is called ‘Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries 1000-1700 (MOB): Exhibiting, Handling and Teaching the Past through Everyday Objects’.

This interdisciplinary project strengthens important existing partnerships between the University of Chester, the Grosvenor Museum in Chester, through Elizabeth Montgomery, Collections and Interpretations Officer, and primary and secondary schools.

Led by Dr Katherine Wilson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester, the project includes the work of Dr Leah Clark, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the Open University and University of Chester academics:

Dr Katherine Wilson said: “We want to bring the results and research of our previous grant to wider public attention, seek to challenge perceptions of the medieval and early modern worlds as static and unchanging, and challenge elite narratives of history by focusing on everyday objects.”

Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester said: “Congratulations to Katherine and our partners in their successful bid. The awarding of these funds is wonderful news.

“Understanding our past is so important and this will enable more people to get up close to artefacts, widening opportunities for the public to experience history and really think about how people lived centuries ago while questioning what we know to date.

“I look forward to seeing this exciting exhibition, and school students enjoying and benefitting from the project.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council added: “This is such an exciting project. Working with the University brings many benefits to our Museum visitors and in this case all the schools that visit as well.

“I hope this new exhibition will form a central part of the plans for Chester in 2022, whilst the new Object Boxes will help to keep history alive for pupils.”

Using the existing partnerships set up with the Grosvenor Museum from an earlier AHRC Network Award, the public exhibition will be held at the Grosvenor Museum in the Spring/Summer of 2022.

The exhibition will bring to wider public and non-specialist attention the collections of everyday objects in the museum collections, such as shoes, tiles, pilgrim tokens, chests and keys, and will reveal the ways in which objects allowed people in the past to move across thresholds and boundaries, from public to private spaces, from secular to religious spaces and across global trade networks.

The exhibition will feature Virtual Reality work from the Department of Computer Science, Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Chester, to bring to life the movement and settings of the objects for the public.

It will also showcase examples of creative work produced by regional school students and bring to wider public attention objects which have not yet been exhibited from the Grosvenor Museum’s large and wide-ranging collections.

The design and production of Object Boxes and teaching resources will provide a unique and sustainable school enrichment experience to support History at Key Stages One to Four and GCSE level.

These Object Boxes will be designed by the Faculty of Education and Children’s Services at the University of Chester, in close collaboration with a teaching advisory team made up of teachers and PGCE students. The boxes will include selected everyday objects from the Grosvenor Museum Collection, such as pottery, shoes, belt buckles, keys, rings, tiles, coins, glass and devotional tokens, as well as lesson plans, worksheets, and creative writing tools appropriate for each key stage and GCSE. Any school that wishes to can access them, allowing all students a handling experience with original artefacts from the medieval and early modern periods.

More information can be found on the impact and engagement work of the Mobility of Objects Grant, with the Grosvenor Museum and with schools, at:

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