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ACE Museum Resilience project 2016 -2018

In August 2016 The Wilson was awarded £273,416 from the Arts Council England Museum Resilience fund.

This 18-month project saw The Wilson test brand new creative approaches, create robust strategies and formed part of The Wilson’s wider ambition to work directly with audiences and volunteers and produce collections-led displays and exhibitions. Explore some of the projects below…

Disruptive Artist Project

‘There is an iceberg in the room and it cannot be ignored’

In September 2017, The Wilson put out a call for a ‘Disruptive Artist’ to interpret our collection in brand new ways. We appointed emerging artist Annabel Duggleby who said:

“As ‘disruptive artist’ I undertook a residency at The Wilson, in order to create a new artwork in response to their collection of objects relating to Dr Edward Adrian Wilson: scientist, artist and Antarctic Explorer. A museum can be a subdued place, with low light, and a hushed atmosphere – and absolutely no touching the objects! I wanted to create something big, bright and fun, something tactile and unusual that will hopefully inspire people to look at the Wilson collection with fresh eyes, and encourage them to have conversations about sustainability and the politics of preservation.”

Download the project newspaper ‘Where Now?’

Wet Sounds

A deep listening experience

A unique collaboration between The WilsonLeisure@ Cheltenham and Wet Sounds. Wet Sounds is an underwater sound art installation and performance. It creates three sound spaces in the physical space of a swimming pool. One inside the water, one outside the water and one a merger of the two as the listener floats on the surface of the water.

In January 2018, visitors to The Wilson explored our collection and took part in a workshop with Wet Sounds Creative Director Joel. They learnt how to ‘sonify’ a story, and created a 5 min piece in response to our collection that was played underwater at a special event on February 10th 2018.

Creative Breakfasts

Inspirational mornings for local creatives

Creative Breakfasts was a monthly meet-up for creatives in and around Cheltenham working in any discipline. Held at The Wilson once a month on a Friday before work, visitors enjoyed a coffee, met other creatives, and enjoyed a short talk from leaders across the creative industries.

Artwork and Animation by Isidora Amézaga & David Zamorano


The Wilson… what are the possibilities?

In November 2017 The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum ran a short exhibition in Gallery 3 called BREAKING_ NEW GROUND. B_NG was part exhibition, part public consultation, part performance space. It was a hybrid intervention. Groups responded to the exhibition and space by exploring our stories and telling theirs. The public chatted to our invigilators and wrote down their thoughts in the structure. It was 5 weeks of conversation, happenings, and events.

Artwork and Animation by Isidora Amézaga & David Zamorano

Thinkers in Residence

Over the summer of 2017, we appointed three ‘Thinkers’ who were in residence at The Wilson for nine days over three months. They offered expertise and guidance in key areas.

Digital Thinker: Dr Ceri Gorton. Co-director of cultural consultancy Bird & Gorton.
Creative Thinker: Angie Bual. Artistic Director at Trigger, ViceChair of Bristol’s MAYK and London Area Council member of Arts Council England.
Commercial Thinker: Judy Niner. Fundraising consultant and Chair of Trustees at Cogges Heritage Trust. Background at BBC, Science Museum and National Trust.

Artwork and Animation by Isidora Amézaga & David Zamorano

The Wilson Volunteers


Over the course of the year, we tested new ways of working and engaging with volunteers, whilst growing our core volunteer base to number over 150 across more than 25 different roles in each and every corner of The Wilson’s programme and services.

We started with Volunteers’ Week from June 1-7, celebrating the incredible contribution of volunteers at The Wilson, recruiting new volunteers, and bringing volunteers out from behind the scenes to speak about their important work to an audience.

Volunteer Council

Next, we developed a new forum for volunteers, the Volunteer Council, in the form of a monthly drop-in, open forum working group chaired by our Volunteer Coordinator but led by volunteers, themselves. Nothing is off the table at the Volunteer Council and every contribution is taken seriously.

The Volunteer Council continues to meet every month and ensures that volunteer voices, discussion, ideas, and feedback are right at the heart of everything we do.

If you work for a volunteer-involving organisation and want help to start your own Volunteer Council, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Kristen Pye, at

Volunteer Manifesto

It is out of the Volunteer Council that our idea for a Volunteer Manifesto developed.

So, in December 2017, facilitated by our Volunteer Coordinator and crowdsourced from and screen printed by over 40 volunteers, we launched a manifesto which sets out a vision for volunteering culture at the Cheltenham Trust now and into the future: how we value it, how we practice it, and how we invest in it.

The manifesto informs every aspect of our volunteer programme and has been shared around the country, spreading good volunteering practice from Bradford to Bromley.

Download the Volunteer Manifesto in full here.

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