In Derry, the choices are endless

The old fileroom at the Derry Journal. (3008SL02) Photo: Stephen Latimer
The old fileroom at the Derry Journal. (3008SL02) Photo: Stephen Latimer

If you were asked to choose an object that best tells the history of Derry - what would you choose?

Personally, I’d be inclined to nominate the famous ‘Derry Journal’ File Room, or at least, one of the 200-odd years’ worth of invaluable ‘Journal archives contained within it that detail the city’s history over the past two centuries.

It just so happens that Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service is planning an innovative exhibition that needs your help! Coinciding with the City of Culture celebrations, the Heritage and Museum Service want to launch a special exhibition titled ‘A History of Derry in 100 Objects’ and it is seeking the input and creativity of local people and groups.

Since its establishment in early 1990, the Heritage and Museum Service has since built up a collection of over 10,000 objects and archives all of which illustrate the unique heritage of the city, which is currently on display in Museum and sites across the city. But there may be more out there.

Mayor Martin Reilly thinks this offers the perfect opportunity for interested parties to put forward what they think represents the richness of our history in a single object.

“This exciting initiative is a way in which the Museum Service is offering their gratitude to the individuals, groups, supporters and organisations who donated objects for the vast existing collection, and is now taking suggestions for the best 100 objects that hold the most significance to the history of this city... This exhibition again offers over the reins of creativity to the imaginative and inspirational people of this city, I have no doubt this will generate huge interest and a high level of community involvement.”

Bernadette Walsh, Archivist with Heritage and Museum Service said: ‘A history of Derry in 100 objects’ will use objects to tell the history of the city, using the premise that every object has a story to tell.

“It’s an opportunity for public to select an object from the existing collection or donate an object to the museum collection which tells a story relating to the rich heritage of the city, this is an opportunity to think outside the box, maybe you have a significant item at home which tells a story, maybe it’s an object elsewhere, from another collection, or maybe it’s a building, this is your chance to get involved.”

To help inspire the public Bernadette has spoken of an unusual object she particularly likes from the city’s collection which links the city to the Napoleonic Wars. “A model of a ship made from the bones of whale meat, by French prisoners interned in the city during the Napoleonic Wars was donated to the collection in 1916. Not only, a visually beautiful object, this also represented how the city was involved in events of international significance at that time.”

The exhibition will be launched on Culture Night, September 20, at the Tower Museum, where the final 100 selected items to be displayed will be chosen and agreed by Museum curatorial staff.

If you would are interested in proposing an object for exhibition, or your venue is keen to display an object please contact Bernadette Walsh, Archivist at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum at: bernadette.walsh@derrycity.gov.uk.

If you are interested in sponsoring the exhibition please contact Derry City Council on: 71 376504.