Cabinets of Curiosities was a partnership project between Inside Out Cymru, Monmouthshire Museums, The Winding House (Caerphilly Borough Council) and the National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon. Inside Out Cymru developed links with the three museums in the Gwent region and organised and delivered a collaborative heritage project specifically at people with mental health issues and their carers where appropriate.

Education officers at Monmouthshire Museums and The Winding House have collaborated on an educational resource pack called ‘The Secret Life of Objects’. This aims to strip back the misconception that in order to engage with historical artefacts we need to know the history behind them. Cabinets of Curiosities used this idea as the basis for the project. Some of the participants have never visited a museum previously due to health barriers. The project looked at ways to take away the notion that museum visitors need to have prior knowledge of history – taking the historical objects from the collections purely as objects that we can respond to, so that participants could engage with the collections for the first time.

Participants explored the objects from the collections and worked with artists to create artistic responses to them. These artworks were gathered to form individual ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ which were exhibited locally before being toured around the Gwent region.  IOC also commissioned a film of the project.

The Aims of the project were:

  • To break down barriers to engagement and widen participation in local heritage for people who experience mental illness and their carers.
  • To improve participants mental wellbeing through engagement with the creative arts and heritage interpretation processes.
  • To develop participants confidence in attending and engaging with public museums.

Watch the short film about the project here.

The workshops were led by artists Lucy Bateman and Nathan Sheen.

Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.