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Culture Awards 2010: Renaissance: North East Museum Award

CULTURE Shock may seem to be a local storytelling project … but it just might be the largest digital storytelling project in the world.

WINNER: Culture Shock

CULTURE Shock may seem to be a local storytelling project … but it just might be the largest digital storytelling project in the world.

The idea behind it is to stockpile a library of our experiences for posterity, with hundreds of people in the North East recording memories and snippets from life – inspired by museum and gallery collections.

These stories have been captured through pictures, sounds, video, even animation, in the form of individual films of two-to-three minutes’ length.

The innovative project explores the diverse heritage of individuals, groups and communities living in the North East while enabling people from similar and different backgrounds to explore, document and share their heritage.

The stories are added to museum collections and are also being broadcast online, on the project website (www.cultureshock.org.uk), and have been shown at public broadcast events throughout the region.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Musuems, said: “The Culture Shock project has used the motivational power of museums and collections to make a difference directly in the lives of nearly 600 people who have created their own digital stories as part of the project, and indirectly many thousands more who have viewed the stories.”

FINALIST: Fashion and Textile Gallery - The Bowes Museum

THE new Fashion and Textile Gallery at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle opened in 2010 and occupies a space almost three times as large as the previous costume gallery, which closed in September 2005.

The museum is now able to present textiles and dress collections in an exciting way that can be enjoyed by the general visitor and the specialist alike, catering for both individuals and groups to study and enjoy the collections.

Visitors are enticed to "window shop" their way along large glass structures from the 1960s to the 16th Century. The result is a series of imaginative and exciting displays set in an atmospheric space.

Joanna Hashagen, keeper of textiles at the Bowes, said: "The Bowes Museum is absolutely thrilled at being shortlisted for this award. It’s hugely rewarding to receive recognition for something that has been part of our vision for so long. It also gives recognition to the team of talented people with their knowledge and expertise, who had the ambition to create something outstanding and innovative, resulting in a gallery that we are extremely proud of.

"Establishing a team of volunteers to work with curators in The Glass Cube, not only develops their skills to work on the collections, but has created a closer relationship with our public, watching them at work."

FINALIST: Northern Spirit

THE LAING Art Gallery’s new £1.5m development, Northern Spirit celebrates some of the region’s most significant artists and makers in a permanent collection.

The gallery, which opened in October 2010, showcases internationally-important art from the Laing Art Gallery’s collection focusing on artists who were either from the North East or inspired by it.

It includes interactive displays, details about the artists’ lives and local people’s stories – all bringing the region’s creative history and artistic achievements to life.

Featuring internationally-acclaimed art from the Newcastle gallery’s collection, it includes work by the likes of famous engraver and naturalist Thomas Bewick, 19th Century painter John Martin and the Beilby family of glass enamellers.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Musuems, said: "We are extremely happy that Northern Spirit has been recognised in getting as far as the shortlist to these awards.

"The new gallery celebrates some of the region’s most significant artists and manufacturers and has transformed the ground floor of the Laing. The Laing has achieved an enormous amount over the past year, not least with Northern Sprit, but also the Paul Noble Marble Hall installation and the Vision and Imagination watercolour show, part of the Great British Art Debate. The Laing has never looked better!"

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