The past, present and future of one of County Durham’s oldest towns is being explored in a special pop-up museum, launching next month.
Look Past the Present, curated by a group of community volunteers, will run in partnership with the Auckland Castle Trust at Bishop Auckland Town Hall from 5th November to 24th December 2016.
It forms part of a three year project by the Trust, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with support from National Lottery players, designed to support grassroots heritage and encourage communities to explore their local history.
Using items donated by project participants and the general public, alongside new work specially commissioned from artist Sarah Farooqi, the exhibition will explore nine key sites around the town and the impact they have had on helping to shape its current landscape.
This includes the grade II listed McIntyre building, the 1890s Doggarts Department Store, Backhouse Bank at the Market Place, which will soon be transformed into a Spanish Art Gallery, the Robinson Arch outside Auckland Castle and Bishop Auckland Magistrates Court.
Anyone who visits the exhibition will also be invited to plot their own memories on a special town map.
This is very much a community project,” said Georgina Ascroft, Community Archivist for Auckland Castle Trust. “The vision for the exhibition is based entirely on the thoughts of our community curators, and visitors will have a chance to make their own mark on the story once it opens too.
“We hope that by exploring some of what helped make Bishop Auckland great in the past, we can all look proudly toward the future and celebrate everything that has, and can be, achieved.”
The pop-up museum’s 20 community curators, including school students, families and pensioners, have spent more than four months developing the project, which will also include an exploration of Kingsway, Theatre Corner, the former Yorkshire Bank Building at Newgate Street and the Town Hall itself.
“Our group of community curators gelled very quickly,” said participant John Redman. “It has been fun working together, remembering things about Bishop Auckland, and interesting to learn even more about the town from each other’s stories and research.”
The pop up museum at Bishop Auckland Town Hall will be open for free, six days a week in line with the usual Town Hall opening hours, which are available online at www.bishopaucklandtownhall.org
Anyone inspired by the Look Past the Present exhibit will have an opportunity to learn more and explore the history of Bishop Auckland even further at a Hidden Histories Meet Up on January 26th.
Full details of this, and all other activities organised by Auckland Castle Trust, can be found atwww.aucklandcastle.org.
More information regarding the Look Past the Present pop-up museum, including opening times, can be found by contacting Bishop Auckland Town Hall on 03000 269524 or www.bishopaucklandtownhall.org.uk