News New gallery opening next year at Maidstone Museum

New gallery opening next year at Maidstone Museum image

Maidstone Museum is opening a new archaeology gallery ‘Lives in our landscape’ early summer 2024.

This exciting new family-friendly gallery will tell the story of how people have lived in the area over a vast span of time. 600,000 years of objects made and used will be on show, from the earliest type of humans hunting animals with stone tools in a forested landscape, up to the medieval period, when Maidstone became a bustling market town.

Visitors will be able to interact digitally and physically with the collections and information held by the Museum. Hands-on activities are being created, with objects to hold and costumes to try on. An interactive touchscreen map will enable visitors to explore what has been unearthed in the borough of Maidstone.

Cllr Claudine Russell, Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Arts said:

“This is very exciting news for Maidstone Museum which is already home to thousands of incredible artefacts which bring history to life. We hope the new gallery will inspire an interest in archaeology in both adults and children and help us all understand the early history of Maidstone and our important place in the world.”

Paul Oldham from The William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust, who kicked off the project with a £100,000 donation, added:

“Maidstone Museum needs new displays to attract visitors. The William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust took the initiative with the offer of a grant of £100,000 for a new archaeology gallery. This project has attracted the strong support of the Borough Council, the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation and the Kent Archaeological Society. Working together we can present a wonderful collection of objects for public education and enjoyment.”

The museum team are working in partnership with the Kent Archaeological Society (KAS) to select the objects.  Andy Ward, KAS Curator, said:

“The KAS and the museum have a long, interconnected history, as our collection was given on long-term loan to the museum in 1858. Working alongside the museum for the new gallery is a continuation of this wonderful tradition. Many of the objects, especially those from the Anglo-Saxon period, belong to the Society and we can’t wait for the public to be told more of their stories.”

Maidstone Museums’ Foundation is a charitable, independent organisation set up to lead everyone's appreciation of and support for the Museums.  Mike Evans from the Foundation said:

“MMF is delighted with this bold initiative to present and interpret even more of the history of Kent, and especially of the Maidstone area, to residents and visitors alike.

“The gallery will appeal to all ages, but particularly young people. As MMF is very supportive of youngsters, running its own Youth Ambassador programme, we think the new gallery will enrich the understanding of those who are the future. Their better appreciation, through imaginative, eye catching and interactive displays, is to be very much welcomed. We fully support this."

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) own and run the Maidstone Museums which includes Maidstone Carriage Museum. Sources of funding for the new gallery include £100,000 from the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust, matched by £100,000 raised by Maidstone Museums’ Foundation, together with £389,000 from the Council.

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