Powell-Cotton Museum

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Powell-Cotton Museum's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Powell-Cotton Museum is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.quexpark.co.uk/museum

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
48 | THE WIENER LIBRARY
which a child has written the words
“Shootthem” is a powerful thing.
Equally, the handwritten account of life
in the Theresienstadt ghetto written
in
situe
by Philipp Manes before he was
deported and murdered in Auschwitz,
is incontrovertible and deeply moving.
One can be very confident that the
documents and artefacts of the
Holocaust are strong witnesses to the
truth and offer overwhelming evidence
of the great crime of the Holocaust.
Furthering education and
remembrance
The Wiener Library is an integral
part of numerous national and
international networks and groups.
These range from the International
Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to
the European Holocaust Research
Infrastructure. We have recently signed
a memorandum of understanding with
the University of Huddersfield and
the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship
Association of Leeds to provide the
university with a Wiener Library North
to support its research and education
work and to supplement the superb
exhibition created by the Friendship
Association on the university’s campus.
The Wiener Library has one of the
most successful Holocaust education
websites in the world,
The Holocaust
Explained
, which is used by around
three million people at present – a
number that rises almost month
by month. We have digitised and
translated thousands of pages of
testimony, which Dr Wiener and his
team collected between the 1930s and
1950s and made many of them freely
availableonline.
And we continue to expand our
collections – purchasing around 1,200
books and taking custody of around
60 new archival collections each year.
The Wiener Library sits at the heart
of Holocaust research, education and
commemoration, maintaining and
growing its extraordinary collections
– which anyone may consult free
of charge, to learn: firstly, that the
Holocaust is a historical reality;
secondly, what the complex political,
social, military and economic processes
were that allowed it to occur; thirdly,
what challenges the long-term
consequences of genocide pose to
individuals, groups and societies.
Finally, the Wiener Library is where
those whose families were touched
by the Holocaust can come to see
their stories and those of others
collected, preserved and shared for the
commongood.
One can be
very confident
that the
documents
and artefacts
of the
Holocaust are
strong
witnesses to
the truth and
offer
overwhelming
evidence of the
great crime of
the Holocaust
The library hosts
temporary exhibitions
and a vibrant events
series open to all
49POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
Director Catriona West
Aerial view of the Powell-Cotton
Museum
The Powell-Cotton Museum is an independent charity
responsible for a nationally significant collection of world
cultures, natural history and fine and decorative arts. The
museum is located in seven acres ofbeautiful, informal gardens
including lawns, herbaceous borders, a woodland walk, and a
historic walled garden.A Victorian mansion house, the home
of the Powell-Cottons, completes the site. Director Catriona
Westelaborates.
Often called a hidden gem, our small museum offers visitors outstanding animal
dioramas, accessible exhibitions and innovative programming. Founded by Percy
Powell-Cotton, an Edwardian explorer, collector and naturalist, his overarching mission
was to “bring the world to Birchington” and educate and enrich the lives of the local
community. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to engage with stories of one man’s
extensive travels through Africa and Asia, living and working with indigenous peoples.
Contentious collections and creating relevance today
One man’s travels and his collection put us at the heart of a national debate on the
impact of colonial collecting on indigenous communities. Those cultures so readily
“collected” 100 years ago have stood a century without voice in UK museums. Our
challenge is to work with both diaspora and indigenous communities, to give them
that voice in our collections database, our exhibitions and our programming.
In 2019 we are collaborating with the University of Sussex on the
Making African
Connections: Decolonial Futures for Colonial Collections
project, examining
our Angolan collection. Co-production is central to the project. Partnerships with
FACTS ABOUT
POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM
»Director: Catriona West
»Founded in 1896
»Charity established in 1926
»Located in Birchington,
Thanet, Kent
»Services: Museum, historic
house, gardens
»No. of employees: 33
»Dating from 1896, our
Kashmir diorama is reputed
to be the oldest surviving
example in Europe
Powell-Cotton
Museum
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
50 | POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM
museums in Britain, Namibia and
Angola, and engagement with
diasporic interest groups, will create an
interactive project website with new
stories on existing objects.
A second project this year with the
British Museum’s Africa department
will establish a paid internship for
a member of the Somali diaspora
community in the UK. Using oral history
recording techniques and informal
workshop sessions, the project aims to
incorporate these personal, community
histories into both museums’ archives
and object records.
Transformation and renewed
purpose
For 80 years the museum was run by
the Powell-Cotton family until 2006. On
the death of Christopher Powell-Cotton,
the son of the museum’s founder, the
trust undertook a review of the charity’s
business management, financial
management, staffing structure and
vision. Such radical reassessment
saw them make a commitment to
transformational change.
Staff were appointed with specialist
skills and experience to deliver
programmes and projects to reverse
decades of decline in visitor numbers.
The first improvements arrived in
2014 with The Cube, a hands-on
gallery where families get up close
to animal skins and skulls, taxidermy
specimens, textiles, masks and musical
instruments. Physical change was
matched by a change in ethos. The
museum put children front and centre
of the visitor experience, giving them
the confidence to lead and learn on
their own terms, in our space.
In 2016 and 2017, the museum
began working with Canterbury
Christchurch University Department of
Early Childhood Studies to establish
our mission – to empower the under-
fives. In following existing learning
methods from the home and pre-
school we developed backpacks,
storytelling and creative workshops
as ways of enabling these young
visitors to engage with the collections.
By making ourselves relevant to
this young age group, our vision
has become to create advocates
for museums as a place of learning
through play, a feeling we hope they
will carry into their older age.
Learning is lifelong, and it is at the
heart of our organisation. Our vision
is to enable people to flourish and
grow, and we extend that beyond
the development and training of our
own staff and volunteers. Working in
partnerships with East Kent College
and Kent Supported Employment
Skills and Employability Service, our
gardens team works to provide a safe
and supportive environment within
which young adults with learning
difficulties, and people on the autism
spectrum, can flourish. This pilot
project is the seed of an ambition
to develop a larger social enterprise
exploring “plant to plate” through
the produce grown in our historic
walledgarden.
Dating from 1896, our
Kashmir diorama
The museum
put children
front and
centre of the
visitor
experience,
giving them
the confidence
to lead and
learn on their
own terms, in
our space
51POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
Social responsibility in a tough
economic climate
As an independent charity, admission
charges are an important part of
how we generate income to be
self-sufficient. We welcome around
36,000 visitors annually of which 53
per cent are local from Thanet, our
largest audience group being families
with pre-school and school-age
children. As Thanet is an area of social
deprivation, the museum has a balance
to strike between providing access
to an engaging visitor experience
against the need to ensure financial
sustainability over the long term. The
trust is committed to corporate social
responsibility and in 2013 we reviewed
our admissions pricing to provide
opportunities for those with low
incomes to access our collections and
stories. Sure Start loyalty cards, special
offers, joint ticketing, occasional free
events, and our annual membership
are just some of the ways we aim
to remain accessible to our core
audiences and our local community.
Visitor income has decreased as
austerity bites and there is continued
uncertainty over Brexit. However, our
future is better than others in our
sector as the trust is due to inherit
residential and commercial properties,
and arable farmland. A greater
diversification and increased income
will support the museum into the
future. With this legacy also comes
the obligation to manage a property
portfolio in poor condition and a
responsibility to use any additional
resources wisely in continuing to meet
the objectives of the charity.
The museum is at the beginning
of an ambitious project that will
deliver wide-scale improvements
to collections’ care and access. Our
Collections Gateway Project 2025 will
realise a bolder version of Percy Powell-
Cotton’s aspiration to “bring the world
to Birchington”. We have two priorities
for the project. Our first is to promote
community cohesion through our
collections of diverse world cultures,
working collaboratively with diaspora,
indigenous and local communities to
create new stories and promote shared
understanding. Our second is to realise
the natural history collections as a centre
of excellence in taxonomic research
benefiting modern conservation. We
are ready and, as our vision statement
says, “Expect the unexpected” – a
challenge to ourselves and an invitation
to our visitors and stakeholders.
Expect the
unexpected
– a challenge
to ourselves
and an
invitation to
our visitors
and
stakeholders
Visitors enjoying our
primate diorama
Lucy with her father in The Cube
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
50 | POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM
museums in Britain, Namibia and
Angola, and engagement with
diasporic interest groups, will create an
interactive project website with new
stories on existing objects.
A second project this year with the
British Museum’s Africa department
will establish a paid internship for
a member of the Somali diaspora
community in the UK. Using oral history
recording techniques and informal
workshop sessions, the project aims to
incorporate these personal, community
histories into both museums’ archives
and object records.
Transformation and renewed
purpose
For 80 years the museum was run by
the Powell-Cotton family until 2006. On
the death of Christopher Powell-Cotton,
the son of the museum’s founder, the
trust undertook a review of the charity’s
business management, financial
management, staffing structure and
vision. Such radical reassessment
saw them make a commitment to
transformational change.
Staff were appointed with specialist
skills and experience to deliver
programmes and projects to reverse
decades of decline in visitor numbers.
The first improvements arrived in
2014 with The Cube, a hands-on
gallery where families get up close
to animal skins and skulls, taxidermy
specimens, textiles, masks and musical
instruments. Physical change was
matched by a change in ethos. The
museum put children front and centre
of the visitor experience, giving them
the confidence to lead and learn on
their own terms, in our space.
In 2016 and 2017, the museum
began working with Canterbury
Christchurch University Department of
Early Childhood Studies to establish
our mission – to empower the under-
fives. In following existing learning
methods from the home and pre-
school we developed backpacks,
storytelling and creative workshops
as ways of enabling these young
visitors to engage with the collections.
By making ourselves relevant to
this young age group, our vision
has become to create advocates
for museums as a place of learning
through play, a feeling we hope they
will carry into their older age.
Learning is lifelong, and it is at the
heart of our organisation. Our vision
is to enable people to flourish and
grow, and we extend that beyond
the development and training of our
own staff and volunteers. Working in
partnerships with East Kent College
and Kent Supported Employment
Skills and Employability Service, our
gardens team works to provide a safe
and supportive environment within
which young adults with learning
difficulties, and people on the autism
spectrum, can flourish. This pilot
project is the seed of an ambition
to develop a larger social enterprise
exploring “plant to plate” through
the produce grown in our historic
walledgarden.
Dating from 1896, our
Kashmir diorama
The museum
put children
front and
centre of the
visitor
experience,
giving them
the confidence
to lead and
learn on their
own terms, in
our space
51POWELL-COTTON MUSEUM |
DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT
Social responsibility in a tough
economic climate
As an independent charity, admission
charges are an important part of
how we generate income to be
self-sufficient. We welcome around
36,000 visitors annually of which 53
per cent are local from Thanet, our
largest audience group being families
with pre-school and school-age
children. As Thanet is an area of social
deprivation, the museum has a balance
to strike between providing access
to an engaging visitor experience
against the need to ensure financial
sustainability over the long term. The
trust is committed to corporate social
responsibility and in 2013 we reviewed
our admissions pricing to provide
opportunities for those with low
incomes to access our collections and
stories. Sure Start loyalty cards, special
offers, joint ticketing, occasional free
events, and our annual membership
are just some of the ways we aim
to remain accessible to our core
audiences and our local community.
Visitor income has decreased as
austerity bites and there is continued
uncertainty over Brexit. However, our
future is better than others in our
sector as the trust is due to inherit
residential and commercial properties,
and arable farmland. A greater
diversification and increased income
will support the museum into the
future. With this legacy also comes
the obligation to manage a property
portfolio in poor condition and a
responsibility to use any additional
resources wisely in continuing to meet
the objectives of the charity.
The museum is at the beginning
of an ambitious project that will
deliver wide-scale improvements
to collections’ care and access. Our
Collections Gateway Project 2025 will
realise a bolder version of Percy Powell-
Cotton’s aspiration to “bring the world
to Birchington”. We have two priorities
for the project. Our first is to promote
community cohesion through our
collections of diverse world cultures,
working collaboratively with diaspora,
indigenous and local communities to
create new stories and promote shared
understanding. Our second is to realise
the natural history collections as a centre
of excellence in taxonomic research
benefiting modern conservation. We
are ready and, as our vision statement
says, “Expect the unexpected” – a
challenge to ourselves and an invitation
to our visitors and stakeholders.
Expect the
unexpected
– a challenge
to ourselves
and an
invitation to
our visitors
and
stakeholders
Visitors enjoying our
primate diorama
Lucy with her father in The Cube

www.quexpark.co.uk/museum

This article was sponsored by Powell-Cotton Museum. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster