Young Leeds curators make history with top award win
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The Preservative Party, a group of determined young curators who stuck together during the pandemic to work on a series of socially-conscious exhibitions and innovative digital displays scooped up the prestigious Marsh Award for volunteering.
Made up of history-lovers all aged 14-24, the group has been working with Leeds Museums and Galleries for more than a decade, planning and curating a series of eye-catching exhibitions at Leeds City Museum and travelled down to London’s British Museum earlier this week, where they were named joint regional winners.
The British Museum and the Marsh Charitable Trust have been working in partnership for the thirteenth year of the ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’ award, which recognises the hugely important contribution that volunteers make to help museums engage with their visitors.
Despite the difficulties they all faced, the group’s commitment to museums and to each other saw them keep in regular contact during the pandemic, coming together for regular meetings where they planned for online activities and future exhibitions.
By continuing to share their ideas and experiences, the group produced a virtual mental health exhibition, did outreach sessions, wrote and produced powerful animations about isolation and body image, and started social media campaigns about mental health.
Esther Amis-Hughes, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ community engagement manager, who works with the Preservative Party, said: “Like all of us, this group of young people has faced some enormous challenges over the past 18 months which have massively disrupted their day-to-day lives.
“To see the way they collectively took the decision to channel their experiences into something positive, creative and beneficial to others was genuinely inspiring.
“All of us who have worked with the Preservative Party are so immensely proud of them and what they’ve achieved and we hope this award gives them some well-deserved recognition.”
Previously, the Preservative Party has worked on displays about the armed forces and the First World War, a nostalgic look at life as a teenager in Leeds and a time capsule which was installed at Leeds Town Hall.
As well as this week’s award win, their efforts have seen them win the 2015 Marsh Volunteer Award for the Yorkshire region, and the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award for City Development at Leeds City Council.
Leeds City Council’s deputy leader, Coun Jonathan Pryor, said: “Young people in Leeds have faced so many obstacles over the past year and their determination and resilience has been something the whole city can be proud of.
“This group of young volunteers exemplifies that spirit, sticking together and taking care of each other while also doing what they can to help the city and its communities in their own way. I’d like to congratulate the Preservative Party on this well-deserved award and thank them for all their efforts through challenging times.”
Meanwhile Muriel Gray, the deputy chair of the trustees at the British Museum expressed her gratitude at the contribution of volunteers nationwide
“The efforts of volunteers up and down the country in 2020 are an inspiration as they gave their time throughout the challenges of multiple lockdowns and museum closures due to the pandemic." she said "The Marsh Volunteer Awards recognise the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers in museums and we are very grateful to the Marsh Charitable Trust for acknowledging this work.”
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