Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland is reopening its doors to members of the public from Wednesday 02 September and inviting visitors to go on a journey through the site to rediscover the stories that have gone untold since lockdown began.
Working with Unfolding Theatre, visitors returning to Woodhorn Museum will be welcomed by staff who will explain the changes on site to ensure the museum is COVID-19 safe, before joining ‘The Quest of Missing Questions’ to uncover the history of the largest pit village in the world, and bring its stories back to life.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “We’ve really missed our visitors and we’re very excited to welcome people back to Woodhorn Museum.
“As well as doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make the museum a safe place for people to visit during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve also been working with Unfolding Theatre to mark our reopening by celebrating the power of questions; because without questions we’re not able to share Northumberland’s stories and remember Northumberland’s proud mining heritage.”
“’The Quest of Missing Questions’ is a chance for people to rediscover our museum by exploring our collections and visiting our heritage buildings to learn more about Woodhorn Colliery and its important place in our regional history.”
‘The Quest of Missing Questions’ journey begins in Woodhorn’s colliery buildings where sound and visuals will help tell the story of the inner workings of Woodhorn when it was a working mine, including how miners would prepare for going underground. Visitors will be encouraged to think about the questions that might run through their head if they were about to step into the cage to travel down the mine shaft.
Moving through the museum, visitors will be encouraged to answer questions about Woodhorn Museum’s exhibitions, including Coal Town, the iconic Ashington Group Collection and the Banner Ramp. Every stop on the quest includes a challenge that uncovers more about each exhibition.
The final stop on the quest is the Stable Block where visual artist, Bethan Maddocks, has created a thought-provoking installation that invites visitors to think about why questions are important, and to remember some of the best questions they’ve ever been asked.
Annie Rigby, Artistic Director of Unfolding Theatre, said: “It feels very special to be working at Woodhorn as it reopens and welcomes the public back through its gates.
“We wanted to create an experience that celebrates Woodhorn’s visitors and the amazing questions they bring to the museum. These questions, and the conversations they spark between visitors and museum staff, are the real magic of Woodhorn.
“’The Quest of Missing Questions’ takes families and visitors of all ages on a journey that encourages curiosity and a chance to explore the site with fresh eyes. We have designed a special treat for visitors’ eyes and ears at the culmination of the journey. It uses recorded voices and light design to celebrate the strong and live relationships Woodhorn has with its community. We hope lots of people will enjoy the experience!”
A special ‘Take and Make’ pack, also developed by Unfolding Theatre, will be handed out as people leave so they can continue their Woodhorn Museum experience at home and continue to ask questions.
Woodhorn Museum reopens to visitors from 10am on Wednesday 02 September. For more information about the Covid-safe changes on site to ensure visitors are safe, museum opening times and more information, please visit www.museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.
Entry to Woodhorn Museum is free for children aged 0-16. Entry for adults is £7 (concessions available). Visitors pay once and benefit from unlimited visits for 12 months from the date of issue. Annual Passes can be bought online in advance of visiting.
For visitors unable to visit Woodhorn yet, there is also a wealth of new content available online from Circus takeovers to Brass Band zooms!
For more information, images or interview requests, please contact David Brookbanks on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07948 563 612.
Notes to editor
About Museums Northumberland
Museums Northumberland (the public name for Woodhorn Charitable Trust) is Northumberland’s museum service, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county.
Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
Museums Northumberland is supported by Northumberland County Council and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
About Unfolding Theatre
The Quest of Missing Questions was made by Unfolding Theatre, which makes big-hearted theatre that delights in bringing people together. Its award-winning projects include touring shows Hold On Let Go, Putting The Band Back Together and Best in the World. Unfolding Theatre also created Frost of Forgetfulness at Woodhorn in 2016.
Artistic Directors: Ruth Mary Johnson & Annie Rigby
Visual Artist: Bethan Maddocks
Sound Designer: Nick John Williams
Graphic Designer: Wayne Gamble
Producer: Jill Bennison