25 Oct 2023
by Trish Mercer-David

A large gallery with red brick walls and a wooden roof. A long, thin wooden boat is foregrounded and various Indian objects are on display.
A wonderful collection is housed in an extraordinary building, and both can be explored over Heritage Open Days. (© The South Asia Collection)

Why we take part 

  • To engage with the local community and other local cultural organisations.
  • To expand our typical audience and gain more new audiences.
  • To raise awareness of our collection, the building history, and the more behind-the-scenes research work we do. Putting ourselves on the map!

What we do for HODs

2023 Event directory description: Explore The South Asia Collection Museum housed in our beautiful grade II listed Victorian roller-skating rink. Our curatorial team will be on hand to chat about the museum and our exciting ongoing research projects within the UK and South Asia.

  • Exhibition curator talk: Vernacular Furniture, Stories from North-West India
  • Building history talk: The Story of the Old Skating Rink
An illustration of Victorian people skating in a hall with an arched wooden roof.
The past life of the South Asia Collection's building was explored in a talk - The old Skating Rink in 1876. (© The South Asia Collection)

We are constantly researching our collections through extensive fieldwork. Our exhibitions are increasingly a result of such fieldwork based projects. The curator's talk was planned to create more awareness of our collections and the fieldwork projects undertaken here by the team. The talk on the history of the building was organised based on visitor feedback from previous HODs and people’s interest in local history and heritage.

Best bits

There was excitement in the air, lots of curious visitors engaging with different parts of the space. We saw noticeably more visitors, in particular new audiences, including a wide range of people from the local community engaging with our collection. Lots of people who came in during HODs were new visitors who had only come across us by looking at the wider Norfolk HODs publications.

We got good feedback on the talks themselves but also helpful suggestions for what we can do next time. Our visitors had requests for more talks and workshops, We also had requests for printed material on the history of the building, which we are now working towards producing. This is all valuable feedback that helps us plan new content.

A broad low level 12 sided patterned wooden stool or table.
A chowki - one of the beautiful pieces of furniture highlighted in a special curator talk for the festival. (© The South Asia Collection)

Nice surprise

There were visitors who were local to Norwich but were first-time visitors. HODs enabled an opportunity to increase visibility for us.

The difference it makes

HODs provides a better understanding of what events are successful and how we can better engage different groups with different events. It helps us make our collection more accessible.

Trish's top tips!

  • Go for it! It’s such a valuable experience both for your staff and for the local community.
  • Make enough time to forward plan your events to make them as best suited to the local community as possible.
  • Make the most of the free resources and help from the HODs team.
View from a gallery down into a cavernous hall with arched wooden roof. A group of people are sat in a square space below surrounded by artefacts.
Visitors enjoyed meeting the experts to explore the extraordinary building and collection over the festival. (© The South Asia Collection)

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