Young people from Leeds curate First World War exhibition In Their Footsteps
The First World War was conflict on a massive scale, claiming the lives of millions and having a lasting impact on those who survived and were left behind, both at home and away.
To pay special tribute, the Preservative Party, a group of young history enthusiasts based in Leeds have curated a unique exhibition at the city’s flagship museum, exploring how the lives of people from their region were affected during the First World War. The exhibition, ‘In Their Footsteps’ at Leeds City Museum, will open on July 1 – the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Running until January 8, 2017, this major city-centre exhibition will showcase the First World War’s impact on local civilians, soldiers, nurses and industrial workers, revealing the variety of communication methods from official telegrams to biscuits transformed into postcards, as well as fascinating finds including a doll’s house made by a group of recuperating soldiers.
With the help of West Yorkshire Archive Service and York Army Museum, the Preservative Party has knitted together touching, individual stories from those caught in a global conflict, as well as collating a special collection of items including a Victoria Cross Medal and personal diary extracts.
Eleanor Smith of the Preservative Party, and one of Leeds’ young curators at 20 years old, said, “It’s such a privilege to be able to work with these unique museum collections that constitute a vital part of our city’s history. We’re really excited to get the exhibition up and running and look forward to encouraging other young people to get involved when we open in July.”
Ruth Leach, Curator of Leeds City Museum said, “It’s extremely refreshing to see such a young team of historians with a keen interest in the First World War, and we hope the exhibition will resonate with other young people as it’s so focused on individuals from their home towns.
"There are some really exciting items going on display which draw on the nationally important Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, so it’ll be a real coup when we open to the public in July.”
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “The impact the First World War had on the people of Leeds was immeasurable and we must never forget the courage and determination of those whose lives the conflict changed so profoundly.
“That’s why it is inspiring to see that younger people living in our city today have been involved in putting together an exhibition which commemorates the tremendous sacrifice made by previous generations.
“By encouraging and nurturing their passion for local heritage, we can ensure this new generation of history-lovers can pass on the knowledge they have acquired and continue to preserve the important legacy of the First World War.”
Throughout the exhibition the museum and Preservative Party will host a number of talks and tours to make up their events programme, including war horse tales, stories from overseas soldiers as part of Black History Month and poetry and performance activities in association with Leeds Grammar School.
For press enquiries, further information including interview and image requests, please contact Sarah Gough or Sarah Bartlett at We Are Boutique on 0113 394 8998 or LeedsCityMuseum@WeAreBoutique.co.uk
Notes to editors
All images © Leeds Museums & Galleries unless noted otherwise
Leeds City Museum
Leeds City Museum is situated in one of Leeds' much loved civic buildings - the Leeds Institute building on Millennium Square. The Leeds Institute is one of the City's most important historic buildings and was completed in 1862 by Cuthbert Brodrick, who also built Leeds Town Hall and the Corn Exchange. From the middle of the last century until 2005 it also housed the Civic Theatre where amateur theatrical groups staged public performances. It has been home to the City Museum since 2008.
The City Museum is the flagship site for the service, and is home to four floors of interactive and exciting galleries showcasing the story of Leeds, as well as the Leeds Mummy and a designated Natural History collection.
www.leeds.gov.uk/footsteps @LeedsMuseums #InTheirFootsteps
The Preservative Party is Leeds Museums and Galleries' youth group, aged 14-24. They work on lots of different projects with museum staff and objects from the Leeds collections.
@PresParty #WW1Leeds #InTheirFootsteps