• Young people with collections
  • Young person with collections
  • Young person in a library
  • Young person with collections
  • Young person with collections

Data Hunters and Story Gatherers: towards community curatorship (Hunters and Gatherers) is an innovative new project by Winchester-based charity Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) which has received £249,132 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Hunters and Gatherers is working with a new team of young volunteers to improve collections auditing and research, research significant, untold stories and develop community co-curation and engagement in new and exciting ways.

The aim of the project, which began in 2023, is to assess the most effective approach to auditing museum collection objects and develop the trust’s approach to volunteer recruitment.  The project’s volunteers are divided into two distinct roles - Data Hunters and Story Gatherers. These roles target young adults to develop skills, increase knowledge and expand opportunities in the museum sector. 

Introducing a refreshing and engaging approach to volunteering, the Data Game is an innovative element of the project. Data Hunter volunteers, organised into teams, earn points for each successfully audited object; those points translate into prizes. The game aims to motivate participants to inventory and audit museum collections by adding an element of competition between the teams.

The Story Gatherers are researching diverse stories relating to objects in the collections cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust, identifying and filling gaps within the trust’s social history collection. These stories will then be shared by the Hunters and Gatherers project team when they collaborate with Hampshire based communities to create two exhibitions. The first will highlight the vibrant communities in Basingstoke with a co-curated exhibition on immigration and cultural diversity in the town. The second will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Jane Austen's birth and will open in July 2025. 

Sam Butcher, Hunters and Gatherers Project Manager, commented: “Through these two exhibitions, we will trial and develop a framework for future co-curation projects. Our Community Collective group are invited to challenge established narratives, disrupt normal ways of doing things and shape the voice, content and approach of exhibitions in a way that suits their interests, experience, opinions and values.”

To date, 33 volunteers have participated in the project and significant progress has been made in cataloguing and sharing the collections. Over 1,983 objects have been inventoried, 1,177 object locations updated and 216 new records created. Moreover, 89 objects have been added to the trust’s online collections which is available free of charge for all to access.

Employee development is also a significant part of the project. Internal secondments are being offered to HCT staff for skills development and career progression throughout the project’s life, including roles such as project manager and project assistants.

Sam Butcher added: "This is a great opportunity for young people to engage with collections management and community co-curation. It’s not just an exploration of museum objects; it's a way to test, improve and evolve object auditing while developing our volunteering opportunities. We hope that our findings will improve our processes at Hampshire Cultural Trust and perhaps even the wider museum sector.”


For more information about Hunters and Gatherers, please visit https://www.hampshireculture.org.uk/data-hunters-and-story-gatherers.

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