Museum to commission artist to create work based on a food bank

Discovery Museum in Newcastle-upon-Tyne wants to raise awareness of inequality
Nicola Sullivan
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The Discovery Museum in Newcastle-upon-Tyne is looking for an artist to create an installation based on one of the busiest food banks in the UK.
 
The artwork, which will be on public display in February, will be created in response to the food packages given out at the Newcastle West End Food Bank and other items in the museum's social welfare collections.

It will be funded by a £3,000 grant from the Museums Association's Transformers programme, which is designed to encourage mid-career professionals to look at innovative ways to build resilience and create impact for their museums.

Earlier this year the museum monitored around 30 visitors’ reactions to the food bank’s family food parcel, which the museum displayed in its social welfare gallery.
 
Kylea Little, a Transformers participant and the keeper of history at the Discovery Museum, said she was surprised that many people thought the package, which includes no fresh items, was substantial enough to feed a family of three.
 
“The general lack of empathy was really shocking. People thought there was a lot of food in the package," said Little.

“We are recruiting an artist to work with the collection and do something quite provocative. We want the artist to try to increase empathy for people who have to use the food bank and create some sort of understanding about what is going on in society. Food banks are relatively new phenomenon," she added.
 
According to figures from emergency food charity Trussell Trust 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from its food banks in 2013-14, compared to 346,992 in 2012-13.

This week work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith announced plans to put job advisers at food banks to provide users with advice on claiming benefits and finding work. The BBC reported that a successful trial of this scheme in Manchester could be rolled out across the UK.   

Other museums that have had projects funded through the Transformers programme include the Royal Collection, Reading Museum, and the Birmingham Museums Trust.


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