Goldaming Museum, Collecting Connections,  October 2012- March 2013

The museum approached the Happy Museum without a fixed idea of what they wanted to achieve from their commission, and through this fluid approach a whole new gallery was co-created with the local community. The Museum worked with local people and environmental community groups to create a new exhibit linking local history and geography with the theme of environmental sustainability. The group developed the concept of a ‘Living Landscape’ gallery, linking into the environmental heritage of the local area which was then built with the help of local artists and craftspeople. The process of community collaboration strengthened the museum’s links with local people and helped it establish new partnerships with a range of local organisations. The museum has gone on to review its environmental impact and has committed to investing in low energy lighting.

‘Working on this project has made us realise that environmental sustainability is at the heart of the story the museum tells about development and change in the local community, and is important for its own sustainable long term operation.’ Alison Pattison, Director

The challenge of linking the past with the present in museum displays touches on several Happy Museum themes around ‘connection’, ‘mutual relationships’, ‘active citizens’, ‘curating the past, present and future’.  A discussion was held between staff from Godalmingm Chiltern Open Air Museum and the Imperial War Museum North


The project helped to create a sustainable community museum which fulfilled people’s personal vision. It built on successful past experience of creating exhibitions that were based on community stories. The development has been shared with partners to result in a better understanding of what the museum means to the community.

Highlights included building new partnershsips, from Charterhouse to Greening Godalming, use of the collections to highlight past interest in sustainability and a useful case study for small community museum.

Challenges included the limited resources and the ebbs and flows of visitor demand which delayed activity and resistance to the sustainability agenda.