Heritage Quay was commended for its “promotion of public history” in the new Public History Prize Awards
The biennial awards, in association with the Institute of Historical Research Public History Seminar, have been set up to recognise work that enhances public understanding of the place of the past in today’s social, political and cultural life.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Huddersfield, Heritage Quay is a £2 million state-of-the-art facility and is one of the most technologically-advanced archive centres in the UK. The commendation, in the Museums and Exhibitions category, comes after Heritage Quay was opened a mere 14-months-ago by Regional Chairman of the HLF Sir Gary Verity.
Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are delighted to hear that this wonderful project has received this richly-deserved award. The archive’s range is breathtaking covering not only social, cultural, political and industrial history but also music, the arts and sport, so we welcome this recognition of the sterling work of the project and the University.”
The archive, which holds material of international importance, including the British Music Collection, in partnership with Sound and Music, and the official Rugby League Archive, in partnership with Rugby League Cares, also works in collaboration with other local history organisations.
As well as showing off its own collections, the archive also acts as a gateway to the development of skills and co-design of its public history programme, which is chiefly organised by Participation and Engagement Officer David Smith.
The Chief Executive of Sound and Music, Susanna Eastburn, who supported Heritage Quay’s submission, spoke highly of the archive “they had opened a fascinating, eclectic and unparalleled collection of material to a much wider public than has ever been the case’.
Brigid Bradley, Rugby League Cares Heritage Programme Manager, acclaimed Heritage Quay’s work to be nothing short of amazing in looking after and making their collection accessible to the public.
“Their outreach programme is fantastic,” said Brigid. “It allows many people who are interested in the history of Rugby League to learn new skills and discover archival gems, all on the basis of our collection.
“The work they do is to an exceptional standard and we feel very fortunate to be partners with them,” she added.
Sarah Wickham, Heritage Quay’s Archivist and Records Manager, was delighted to receive recognition from the RHS, which has long been regarded as the principal organisation representing British historical scholarship both at home and abroad.
Peter Mandler, RHS President, said about the Public History Prizes: “We live in something like a golden age of public history – a time when academics and other specialists work closely with journalists and the media and vice-versa to satisfy public interest in and raise public understanding of historical questions.
“The Royal Historical Society wants to recognise creativity and excellence in this booming field: to show that the public doesn’t need to choose between edification and entertainment, between expertise and accessibility, between style and substance. We hope these prizes will draw further attention to the most impressive combinations of high-quality research and high-quality presentation.”