Helston Museum awarded National Lottery grant to save historic photographs

Helston Museum awarded National Lottery grant to save historic photographs
Museum of Cornish Life, Helston

By: Helston Museum
Added: 26 October 2015


Staff and volunteers at Helston Museum are celebrating the a grant of £36,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable the museum to digitise and make available to the public the vast photographic collection stored at the popular attraction. ‘Accessing the Past – Digitising Helston’s Digital Heritage’ will allow the public to search through thousands of images of Helston and the Lizard area via an easy to use computer terminal in the museum’s reception area and through the museum’s website. The 18 month project will start in the next few weeks.

The project will employ a Digitisation Officer to supervise a team of volunteers who will scan and re-package photographs and negatives in archival quality boxes for safe storage. The project will start in the next few weeks and continue for 18 months.

Helston Museum evolved from a collection of local history items begun by Helston Old Cornwall Society in the late 1930s. The collection, originally on show in the town’s Guildhall, was moved to its current location in the Market Buildings after the Second World War, and has since grown to contain thousands of objects, including many photographs, negatives and slides. Lack of display space has meant that only a fraction of these are on view at any one time, and current storage conditions are unsuitable, threatening the survival of fragile images. The opportunity to digitise and make them available to a wider audience is expected to be a fantastic boost for the museum and the town. A big part of the project will be the creation of educational resources and activities for all, based around the themes covered by the collection.

Today, the collection and buildings belong to Cornwall Council, but the museum is currently managed by South Kerrier Heritage Trust, established in 2013 to take the museum forward.

Chair of the Trust, Judith Haycock, said: “This is very exciting, not just for the Museum but the whole area. We have a fantastic collection of thousands of photographs but it has only been possible to display a few. Once this project is completed everyone will be able to search through and find photographs of friends, families and events some over 100 years old.”

Museum Curator, Katherine Ashton added, “We are so excited that we have been given this opportunity, and we are really looking forward to unearthing some real treasures amongst the collection and sharing them with our visitors.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to support this digitisation project at Helston Museum. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players our funding will digitise and open up the museum’s collections to the public, some for the first time, making it easier for everyone to explore and learn about the Museum, Helston and the wider Lizard area.” 

There is also the opportunity for the public to get involved. The museum are appealing for anyone who would like to be considered as a project volunteer to contact Katherine at the museum on 01326 564027.