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Public urged to help Council preserve and document the past

11 March 2019

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Museum and Heritage Service is calling on members of the public to assist in building on the historic collections that capture the unique story of the City and District with a special event taking place in the Alley Theatre, Strabane.

Find out more about the wide array of artefacts held in the Council’s Museum collections dating from the prehistoric era to the present day, and how you can contribute to preserving local heritage for posterity. The event takes place on Friday and Saturday March 29 and 30, from 10am – 4pm, funded through Council’s Good Relations Programme, supported by the Executive Office.

With thousands of artefacts and archives the museum has already compiled a comprehensive record for the area - but there are still some gaps to be filled and enriched. With the help of the public the Museum Service hopes to enhance the collections, and will provide legal documentation ensuring protection for any items loaned or gifted to their collections. The Museum Service is particularly interested in items or collections that record the history of Strabane and rural areas, and will be offering practical advice on how to protect and care for artefacts.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor John Boyle, urged people to find out more about how they can play their part. “Derry and Strabane have a rich shared heritage and it’s vitally important that we all support the efforts being made to preserve this through the Council’s Museum Service,” he said.

“Our history and culture are vital resources in terms of tourism and we should celebrate the unique story we have to tell the world and take every opportunity to showcase it.

“Many of us have historic items at home that have been passed down through the generations. This event offers the opportunity to find out how these items can be donated, documented and preserved by your local museum service and the important place they could have amongst a wider collection piecing together the narrative of a particular era.”

Curator with the Museum and Heritage Service, Roisin Doherty, explained that the museum relies on local people to unearth the hidden artefacts that bring history to life. “Our mission in collecting artefacts is to protect and promote the history and heritage of the region, enabling enjoyment and learning for all and the enrichment of peoples’ lives,” she explained.

“At the moment we regularly host exhibitions, events and workshops based on the artefacts and archives within our collection. However, in order for this to develop further we need the public’s help in increasing our museum collection. We are hoping people will come forward with artefacts and archives that offer a valuable insight into the history of the district. Examples may include old photographs, bills or letters, tools or even uniforms from businesses that are no longer open, items from the railway or in relation to the rivers, social history items that were manufactured in the area or military items relating the First and Second World War, to name just a few. Our Museum is accredited and our collections care adheres to SPECTRUM 5, the UK Collections Management standard. However, we need our collection to grow, particularly in relation to rural areas within the Council district. If you would like to know more about collections care, or how you can help preserve your heritage, please call in and speak to us in the Alley Theatre during this event.”

Current collections held by the museum span over 9,000 years, reflecting developments in archaeology, maritime history, agricultural and industrial heritage as well as military and transport history. As well as charting these events for educational purposes these collections promote the Good Relations ethos by promoting historical understanding amongst the community. With new collections, the Museum Service could increase their capacity to engage and promote Good Relations across the Council District.

If you have an interest in local history and want to find out more, go along to the Alley Theatre, Friday March 29 and Saturday March 30 from 10am – 4pm or contact the Tower Museum on 02871 372411.

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