Museum’s dedication to the arts recognised

Mark Westley Photography Ancient House Museum in Thetford named as an Arts Award Centre for Good Practice. 'Melissa Hawker learning officer.
Mark Westley Photography Ancient House Museum in Thetford named as an Arts Award Centre for Good Practice. 'Melissa Hawker learning officer.

A pioneering museum in Thetford which has helped nore than 200 young artists to gain accreditation for their work has been named an Arts Award centre of good practice for 2014/15.

The Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, part of the award-winning Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), has led the group’s involvement in marketing museums as a space to promote young people’s engagement with the arts.

It is the first, and currently only, museum to have been selected as a centre of good practice by the national organisation.

Learning officer Melissa Hawker said: “It feels fantastic, we are absolutely thrilled.

“It is the result of years of work, using art in an innovative way. The Ancient House Museum team are really blazing the trail for museums as centres of good practice.”

The accolade is the latest recognition of the museum’s dedication to embed arts into its programme for young people.

“We are trying to make sure that young people who work with us on a regular basis can work through all the five stages of the Arts Award with us,” said Melissa.

“I am really passionate about it, and I think it is a great way to credit young people for their talent and dedication to the arts.

“There is a feeling that some young people in Norfolk and Thetford do not have very high aspirations. This is a great way of filling them with confidence and pride in themselves.”

The Arts Award team will be working with the Ancient House Museum and 18 other chosen centres of good practice over the coming year.

The organisation aims to provide people under 25 with access to and accreditation in all forms of art, from fashion to photography, painting to literature.

With these recognised qualifications young people can go on to further education and employment.

The Ancient House Museum runs projects including helping children to create their own exhibitions, history clubs for different age groups and learning sessions with volunteers trained in traditional crafts.

It also runs a popular Discover in a Day programme for school groups on almost any historical theme.

It is currently helping schoolchildren towards a special Arts Award in First World War studies, helping them to research the war and curate their own pop-up exhibition.

The museum has also worked closely with the regional Bridge organisation, which provides a direct link between centres working with young people, schools or communities to arts and cultural organisations.

Melissa said: “At the museum, we want to continue to increase the number of people we have working with the Arts Award with us, but we also want to increase awareness of it across the county and show how it can encourage children to engage with the arts in a broader way.”