The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

Published on: 12 August 2014

The Sex and History Intimate Worlds exhibition was a great example of teamwork between the two organisations

Museum exhibits are moving into the digital age as collaborative projects between the University of Exeter and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) encourage people to engage with historical information through digital media.

The two organisations have been working together since RAMM re-opened in 2011 following a multi-million pound refurbishment. Working together has enabled RAMM to offer people a fresh view of its collections and out the work of Exeter researchers in front of a much wider audience.

RAMM’s Digital Media Officer Rick Lawrence said: “For us the biggest benefit is being able to share our knowledge. The academics have access to our collections and are providing a fresh view of our artefacts and helping to develop ways for users to access the collections outside the museum – with projects such as Time Trails and Moor Stories.”

The Exeter Time Trails project mapped Exeter’s history and resulted in an interactive web app where you can explore Exeter’s history.

Moor Stories connected the museum’s collections to the Dartmoor locations and communities they originally came from. With this information a website and a web- app have been created so that you can explore the Dartmoor landscape and uncover the hidden histories.

Intimate Worlds

Another collaboration got people got talking about sex, with an exhibition of sexual objects from different time periods and cultures in a project from University of Exeter researchers Dr Rebecca Langlands and Professor Kate Fisher from the Centre for Medical History and Tony Eccles, Curator of Ethnography.

Professor Fisher explained: “The exhibition is also linked to the development of sex-education resources and uses objects from past cultures as a stimulus for discussing issues relating to sex, sexuality and relationships. It has been amazing for those involved in the project - especially teachers, pupils and their parents - to see these objects in person.
“As a result of the exhibition the profile of the Sex and History project has grown and we have developed exciting new partnerships with national and regional bodies in sex education, youth work, advocacy groups and creative industry.”

She added: “Working with RAMM in curating a world-class exhibition has significantly enhanced our work on the Sex and History project.”

The exhibition had benefits for the museum too. Mr Eccles said: “As a project, Intimate Worlds excelled in a number of ways including how the institutions worked together; it was great teamwork. The marketing we received from the university was superb – with a great choice of photographer who produced some excellent results.”

He added: “Kate and Rebecca’s involvement with the media was significant for their project; however, it highlighted the need for partnerships to be publicly acknowledged instead of individual university-related projects.

“Intimate Worlds really highlighted the results we were looking for in a partnership, so it’s fair to say that I relish the next opportunity to engage with the university.”

The Sex and History project won the Social and Cultural impact award in the 2011 University of Exeter Impact Awards.

Faces of conflict

A study of disfigurement using the facial injuries of soldiers in WW1 is set to reach new audiences because of the collaboration with the RAMM. The Faces of Conflict exhibition, a project from Professor David Houston Jones, Dr Marjorie Gehrhadt, Cristina Burke-Trees and RAMM Curator of Antiquities, Thomas Cadbury looks at the relationship between artistic and surgical practices.

Professor Jones said: “Working with RAMM has been inspirational – the collaboration has been key both to our large-scale exhibition on the legacy of WWI facial injury and to the project more broadly. The RAMM team have provided a friendly, positive environment in which to exchange ideas and have enabled us to think constructively about how to reach new audiences.”

The Faces of Conflict exhibition is due to open in January 2015 and will run until April.

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