Parc Howard Museum in partnership with Fusion - Museums Association

Parc Howard Museum in partnership with Fusion

Llanelly Pottery Stories

Parc Howard Museum was gifted by Lady Howard Stepney to Llanelli in 1912 as a hub for arts, culture and wellbeing at a time of high unemployment and social unrest.

Llanelli is a proud postindustrial town at the crossroads between rural and industrial South Wales. Ambitious regeneration schemes have put it on the map for culture, sport, and the environment. But falling visitor numbers to the museum revealed there was a problem.

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, managed by the Museums Association, supported our project to use collections differently for social good and create positive changes within the organisation.

The Parc Howard collection of Llanelly Pottery (1839-1922), all made by hand and brimming with human stories, was an interesting place to start this journey.

The Llanelly Pottery Stories project experimented to see what people enjoyed. Partnering with the Fusion programme helped promote what we were doing through community networks. A 40% increase in visitors within a year and being a finalist in the 2019 Kids in Museums Family Friendly Award were surprising outcomes.

A person holds a paintbrush
Images courtesy of Parc Howard Museum

We also wanted people to see they could make a difference at their museum. A new permanent pottery exhibition was co-created with information and material collected through reinterpretation sessions with specialists; workshops with the National Autistic Society; family centre programmes; and local history societies.

These uncovered fascinating past stories about migration, identity, language, health, working lives, and inequalities, which resonated with contemporary issues.

While the pandemic has paused completion of the exhibition, it has been an opportunity to try something new: online resources for schools. A new curriculum, soon to be rolled out in Wales, allows for the pottery collection and the community stories we collected to inspire cross-curricular themes and an entirely new visiting experience.

These will be available later in 2021.