Academics put the shine back into Harborough Museum’s Boot and Shoe exhibit

Posted by er134 at Apr 28, 2014 01:45 PM |
University of Leicester academics to connect audiences using digital technology for new project ‘Sole2Soul: Narrative, Curate, Rejuvenate’ project at Harborough Museum

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 April 2014

The Centre for New Writing at the University of Leicester is stepping up to the plate to engage audiences of teenagers and “silver surfers” (over 55s) with the Boot and Shoe exhibit at Harborough Museum – with the hope of scaling up the project for multiple museums and collections in the future.

‘Sole2Soul: Narrate, Curate, Rejuvenate’, has been funded with a grant by the Leicestershire County Council on behalf of Arts Council England. The project team will employ a mobile phone app, creative writing, photography, podcasts and social media to attract new audiences with the Boot and Shoe exhibit and to significantly improve its digital assets.

The project was devised and designed by Dr Corinne Fowler, Director of the Centre for New Writing, Dr Ming Lim from the School of Management and Dr Ruth Page from the School of English, working with the Falkner’s Boot and Shoe Making Workshop exhibit at Harborough Museum.

Dr Fowler said: “The concept is simple: wise souls talk to teenage souls about shoe soles. Harborough Museum has recently re-opened after refurbishment. This is a golden opportunity to rejuvenate the collection, to bring silver surfers and teenagers into meaningful communion with the exhibit using forms of creative writing which are amenable to digital transmission, such as twitter fiction and flash fiction. Teenagers will also be offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to curate individual artefacts from the exhibit.”

“Sole2Soul” will begin by commissioning 30 experienced writers to visit the Boot and Shoe exhibit, talk to museum staff and write about the collection. Collectively, they will produce thirty pieces of writing in forms best suited to the digital medium - 10 story tweets, 10 pieces of flash fiction and 10 poems.

Once this writing has been professionally edited by the Centre for New Writing, the work produced will be displayed on the Museum website as well as featured on creative writing websites with strong regional connections as well as on social media sites.

For the ‘Narrate’ part of the project, over-55s will be invited to attend creative writing workshops to be held at the museum where they can create original content. For the ‘Curate’ part of the project, pupils from Harborough schools will be presented with digital maps of the Boot and Shoe collection – and, with the help of teachers and the Centre for New Writing, will each produce a personal Future Curators' Gallery feature for the Museum and project websites.

At the end of the project, the creative output will be showcased in a digital exhibition and at the Literary Leicester Festival 2014 taking place in November 2014.

Dr Ming Lim said: “We are so excited to be able to make a difference in the historical imagination of young and older people this way.  This project speaks for itself, literally: the boot and shoe collection might never be the same again after the words have been written, spoken, tweeted or even rapped by everyone who takes part. We just know the original work produced by participants will create a buzz on social media sites!”

Dr Ruth Page added: “Storytelling is a powerful way to engage with the world around us. This project will give both older and younger members of the public a chance to tell stories inspired by the museum's collection and to engage with the local community.”

Catherine English, Local Heritage Officer at Harborough Museum, added: “This project is an exciting opportunity to look at different ways we can engage new audiences with Falkners Boot and Shoe Workshop.”

The project is part of a major research collaboration between the Centre for New Writing and the School of Management entitled 'Affective Digital Histories: De-Industrialised Spaces from 1970-present', which combines marketing skills with creative writing expertise to stimulate public engagement with under-exposed archives about Leicester's Cultural Quarter.

This online, intergenerational showcase will be unveiled at a launch event in November 2014 to which all participants, writers, cultural activists and journalists will be invited.

‘Sole2Soul: Narrate, Curate, Rejuvenate’ will run between 1 May to 31 December at the Falkner’s Boot and Shoe Making Workshop exhibit at Harborough Museum.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact: Dr Corinne Fowler on

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