TMC on Tour Part Two: The Collection, Lincoln

“We want to create a building that is not just for ‘some people’, but for everyone”.

Time for another installment from our ‘In The Spotlight’ visits. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. A couple of weeks ago Nick and I were lucky enough to visit The Collection and Usher Gallery in Lincolnshire.

The Collection brings together an award winning archaeology museum and the region’s premier art gallery, the Usher Gallery, in the heart of historic Lincoln. They offer an opportunity to “Come face to face with Lincolnshire’s earliest inhabitants in the museum and explore the wonderful art collections in the Usher Gallery”. They offer an exciting space for younger visitors and a vibrant exhibition programme.

The team work across a number of Lincolnshire sites offering a wide range of opportunities to engage with heritage and learning. The main sites are: The Collection: Art & Archaeology in Lincoln, Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Gainsborough Old Hall, BBMF Visitor Centre, Lincoln Castle, Discover Stamford and Lincolnshire Archives.

The Collection has a strong creative arts offer for schools, and this has been developed by their Learning Manager Anita Fox. They have regular visits from schools who take advantage of their planned programme and exhibition visits. They are developing their Arts Award offer in 2020 and also offer outreach opportunities for schools and communities to access their loans boxes, encouraging them to be able to develop their own work and exhibitions in response to the contents in the box. See for the full range of the learning experiences on offer.

As well as a strong offer for children they also host ‘The Creative Collective’ a session for 16-25 years olds led by Jenny Gleadell, Exhibitions and Interpretation Officer. This programme offers young people an opportunity to develop their own work in response to the visiting exhibitions and “just gives young people the space they need” says Jenny.

The Collection work in partnership with a number of other organisations to ensure their work goes beyond their doorstep. “It is challenging getting young people across the threshold” says Andrea Martin, Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager “Many young people feel it is not for them and it is our job to change that thinking. We want young people to feel like they can help set the agenda and feel that this is a place for them.” “it is important we make it relevant” added Jenny.

“We want to create a building that is not just for ‘some people’, but for everyone”

When asked, if money was no object, what would they do? The team went on to describe an environment that encouraged co-creation across communities, with an after hours offer and complimentary outreach programme. A strong digital offer that would help more isolated communities engage and most importantly sustainability.

“It’s about continuing the small stuff, that’s the stuff that makes a difference to everybody’s lives, not everything has to be huge, we want to give people space ‘just to be.”

They continued to discuss training and CPD for emerging artists and young people, offering careers advice and support for young people wanting to pursue a career in the arts.

It is fair to say, that although The Collection and Usher Gallery are facing challenging times with cuts, they are not letting it hinder their ambition or spirit.

Last year they hosted a visiting exhibition from the V&A and have a number of exciting opportunities coming up this.

I believe it is vital we get behind our regional venues. Times are tough and with cuts to creativity within education, young people will need these venues more and more, so follow The Collections lead, open your doors and let the young people in!