HS2 Community Environment Fund logo

Discover Bucks New Galleries Project
Awarded: £74,430

Region: Central

The Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust is a registered charity, located in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The project has provided five new interactive galleries which tell the story of Buckinghamshire people and landscapes from 200 million years ago through to today. They also feature objects found in the surrounding areas and stories from the diverse local community. Prior to work on the new Discover Bucks Galleries, the previous gallery had become outdated, dilapidated and less relevant to today’s local community. The new galleries include upgraded display cases and environmental controls which means that they can now display a greater range of objects.

Since the opening of the new galleries, around 59,000 visitors have engaged with them. The galleries feature a ‘Bucks People’ section which features stories of social history in Buckinghamshire, including communities of different faiths and beliefs. There are also ‘Bucks Wildlife’ and ‘Bucks Geology’ sections which bring the natural world to visitors. These galleries promote a sense of reminiscence and nostalgia and they run activities with various community groups which provide opportunities for discussions and activities in the galleries. They have also developed a ‘Community Gallery’. This provides a space to invite different groups within the community to come together and design small exhibitions about their groups, what they find important and how the museum’s collections relate to them. 

A space for reflection

Additionally, the galleries provide a space for reflection and learning. The displays have been designed to be as accessible as possible, with content ranging from written materials to video content and visual keys to soundscapes. Groups are regularly invited to visit the galleries, and they provide specialist sessions such as ‘touch tours’ for the visually impaired and signed gallery tours for those with hearing difficulties.

The project has also enabled the museum to work with HS2’s archaeology units to bring archaeological finds from the local area to the community. As a result of this, the museum secured a loan of the Roman Heads found at the Stoke Mandeville Church excavations and put them on display as the first archaeological finds from the HS2 works. As these were well reported and significant finds, the display welcomed in excess of 9,000 visitors.

“The project has helped the community in a number of ways.

“Primarily, the museum has become an integral part of life for much of the community. General public visitors, community groups, schools and stakeholders have all benefitted from new, improved galleries which are more relevant and inclusive to the diverse community.

“New education programmes have been developed based around the new galleries; accessible visits have been developed for those with SEND requirements and disabilities; communities now have their own space to tell their stories; and it has brought the community together in realising the positive outcomes from the HS2 works. Interest in our archaeology has particularly flourished with HS2 excavations and we continue to develop opportunities for volunteering around this aspect and others.”

The Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust