Piecing history together

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News release: 15 May 2017

Museum staff are to examine people’s stopped clocks, chipped china and other damaged objects to piece together the stories they reveal.

Glass fragments from St Albans Cathedral
Residents from the St Albans District are invited to bring broken or incomplete possessions that they have held onto because of their fascinating past.

They can relate their history to artist Abi Spendlove as well as teams from St Albans Museums and the University of Hertfordshire (UH) Galleries.

Abi will use the tales to inspire a new series of artworks she is making for an exhibition to be held later this year.

Visitors will also get the chance to see what happens when an object first goes into a museum collection.  They will follow its progress as it is entered, recorded and photographed.

They will also learn about conservation and restoration and can view some of the museum’s broken objects including burned pottery from the ancient Roman city of Verulamium.

The Museum of Broken Objects event will be held at the Verulamium Museum, St Michael’s Street, St Albans, on Saturday 20 May from 10am to 4pm.

Abi has been jointly commissioned as an artist in residence by St Albans Museums service and UH Galleries.

She is fascinated by fragmented objects and the investigation of their significance and stories.

Abi said: "I've really enjoyed working with St Albans Museums and exploring their vast, diverse collection of objects. 

“Broken objects hold a particular interest to me as they often have layers of stories to tell: the story of their history, the story of their damage, and the story of their conservation or restoration. 

“I'm looking forward to discovering new stories at the Museum of Broken Objects."

Abi’s exhibition will be held at the Clock Tower in September. Her project is part of an Arts Council England-funded initiative to engage artists and new audiences in fresh aspects of the St Albans Museum’s collection.

This is happening while the Town Hall is being transformed into a new £7.75 million Museum and Art Gallery.

Councillor Annie Brewster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage, said: “This will be a wonderful chance to look behind-the-scenes at the work done by the Museums team. 

“People will be able to see some of the collection’s objects up close and experience what happens to them as they go through the Museum’s processes”.

Another project commissioned by Arts Council England will take place later in the summer. Artist Lyndall Phelps will tour the District with a Curious Conversation, pop-up museum showcasing some of the collection and other artworks.

PIC: Centuries old Glass fragments recovered St Albans Cathedral.

Councillor contact: 
Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage, St Albans City and District Council. Email: cllr.a.brewster@stalbans.gov.uk; Tel: 01438 832255 
Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk

UH Galleries, at Hatfield and within the Museum of St Albans, are amongst the most innovative contemporary art spaces in the UK and give artists space to experiment and develop new ideas. Working with emerging and established professional artists across all media, UH Galleries organise a rolling programme of exhibitions and collaborate with other major cultural institutions across Europe. For more information, see: www.uharts.co.uk