It was the weekly wartime showcase that put centuries of Leeds history in the frame.
Now Leeds City Museum is giving local residents the chance to put their own curatorial talents to the test and create a city-wide network of wonderful windows inspired by the museum’s remarkable collection. With council-run museums and galleries currently closed as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, the new Museum Window project will see the museum team select and highlight a different object from their huge array of exhibits every week.
Residents will then be invited to create their own display at home on the same theme, using anything from family heirlooms, ornaments or items they have made while self-isolating before placing them in a window and sharing their efforts online using #MuseumWindow. The idea was sparked by a project which first began in 1933, when Leeds City Museum hosted its own weekly window display.
At that time the museum was located on Park Row and every week, an object was chosen to be displayed in one of the building’s windows facing the street. An accompanying story about the objects on show was also featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post. The project continued until the 1950s, even though the museum’s main building was destroyed by an air raid in 1941. Displays already created include one themed around Yorkshire playwright Alan Bennett and another looking at local sports clubs and activities.
Leeds Museums and Galleries’ project curator Catherine Robins said:
“The original Museum Window project was born from the idea that people from all walks of life could engage with the collection by doing something simple as walking past a window.
“While our sites are closed, we’re still really keen to connect with visitors so we thought we’d bring this idea back for the first time in more than 60 years and help people with a shared love of history connect with each other in a different way.
“We’d love to see people across Leeds creating their own Museum Window for themselves and others to enjoy while they also help Leeds City Museum collect some new stories during this extraordinary chapter in our local history.”
To help those creating their own window display, the museums team have put together a guide including tips for how to display objects safely, share your story online and how to make your own object labels like those visitors would find in a museum.
To find out more about how you can create your own Museum Window, visit: www.museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk