Hastings Museum works with Curating for Change to showcase disabled people's history
On Friday 20 October, Esther Fox was presented with the National Lottery Heritage Award by Sir Tony Robinson at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. The award recognises Esther's work as Head of Accentuate at Screen South and Project Lead for Curating for Change, a ground-breaking project providing work placements and professional development for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people who want to pursue a career in museums.
The project has currently created placements for eight trainees and eight fellows who are D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent. This includes Jack Guy, who is developing a career in curating at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.
Jack and Curating for Change have co-produced the museum's current disability history exhibition Stored Out of Sight. This exhibition showcases Jack and the co-production group of seven local disabled people's work uncovering and researching items relating to disability from the museum store. Bringing these objects to light by sharing the experiences of disabled people in history.
In addition to this, the exhibition highlights the lived experience of members of the co-production group and other local disabled peoples through their own voice. These pieces show the real experiences of disabled people and dismiss the stereotypes that have been created. The struggle to be treated fairly and seen as equal is further explored in the section dedicated to disability activism. This tells the story of disabled people's ongoing fight to bring about equal access to environments and opportunities.
The exhibition is on display at the museum until Saturday 16 December 2023.
Cllr Andy Batsford, lead for Culture at Hastings Borough Council, said:
"Disabled people sadly face social and environmental barriers that restrict them daily. Through our work with Curating for Change, we want to ensure that our museum provides a platform so these valuable stories can be told.
"We are delighted to have free audio guides for this exhibition available to use. The audio guides have been created by SoundScribe, who are also leading touch tours of the gallery. You can find out more at www.hmag.org.uk/see-and-do/exhibitions/stored-out-of-sight."
Watch Jack and Esther talk about Curating for Change and Stored Out of Sight at www.heritagefund.org.uk/videos/esther-fox-national-lottery-awards-heritage-winner-2023.
Esther Fox, Project Lead for Curating for Change, added:
"I'm truly delighted to have won and that our work is being recognised. It's so important that our museums are representative of all people and all histories, so we can see ourselves reflected, not hidden. In particular we must provide opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent curators to uncover the fascinating and often overlooked histories of disabled people, for all to enjoy. Our Curating for Change Fellows are leading this process, so this award isn't just an honour for me, but for the whole team too."