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Andy Hayes visits

National Civil War Centre UK, Museum site in Newark

 

 

As a candidate in the Newark by-election 2014, I was invited to visit on Wednesday 21 May, the site of the new museum and National Civil War Centre in Newark on Trent UK, my local town.

I met with Bryony Robins, the Project Manager for the £5.4 million restoration of the old museum, at the Magnus School Building on Applegate, Newark. The project is jointly co-ordinated by the Friends of Newark Museums and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

A large part of the cost has been funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund, but other companies and organisations have also contributed. UPS, the delivery firm, donated £16,500 specifically for technology to make the collections accessible for learning disabled and visually impaired visitors.

Newark was a key strategic town during the English Civil War, 1642-1646, and one of the aims of the new centre is to show how conflict and siege affected the ordinary people of the town, and how they survived such challenging times.

The centre will feature exhibitions on other civil conflicts around the world and in our own time, and also show how the changes brought about by the English Civil war contributed to creating the parliament and society we have today.

Accessibility has been built in to the project design from the start, and Bryony told me that the committee have liaised closely with a range of groups, for example the RNIB, and local special needs schools, to ensure that the museum’s treasures can be enjoyed by those with visual impairments, or with learning difficulties, as well as those with physical disabilities or impairments.

Plans include audio tours tailored to the needs of blind and partially sighted visitors; a hearing loop system; Makaton pamphlets and guides to the exhibits; tactile representations of some of the objects on display; tactile maps of the exhibitions; and touch-tours when certain objects can be handled.

I suggested to Bryony that the new 3-D printer technology might be an affordable way to recreate some of the more fragile exhibits. So many autistic children respond far more to touch than they do to visual stimuli, and it would also offer a fuller experience for visually impaired visitors. Bryony said it hadn’t been suggested so far, but that she would certainly pass the idea on to the committee.

Other accessibility features will be wheelchair accessible lifts and exhibition areas, and provision has also been made for any disabled staff who might be employed at the museum.

My other questions were about opening hours, for example opening early or late specifically for autistic or other neuro-diverse children who find crowded places and a lot of noise hard to handle. Again, Bryony said she would pass my suggestions on to the team responsible for making those decisions.

Andy Hayes

Last updated on 8 June 2014

 

 

For more information about the centre and pictures of the proposed layout of the rooms. You may find the following links useful.

 

National Civil War Museum site in Newark website.
http://www.civilwarnewark.co.uk

National Civil War Centre, web page on Newark and Sherwood District Council website.
http://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/nationalcivilwarcentre/

 

 

 

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