We’ve turned back time

In Museums on December 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm

So it’s all finished. The BBC TV series Turn Back Time ended this week, having taken a group of shopkeepers back to six historical periods between 1870 and 1970, testing their abilities to run their own business in a different climate. The results made for really interesting programmes which I think helped people to understand more about the pressures of daily life of independent traders on our nation’s high streets. It also reinforced for many the links between economic and political history and how they affected the social fabric of Britain over time. (You can still watch episodes from the series on iPlayer. And there is a round-up of some of the blogosphere response to the programmes online too.)

The travelling exhibition, which I curated for the BBC with the live events company Innovision, has also come to an end. The interactive history pop-up-shop has been on the move around the country of late, visiting 11 towns in the last seven weeks. Visitor numbers have been huge – much more than we anticipated in many places. The last shop closed this evening in Armagh.

What has been most gratifying is seeing people engage to an incredibly high level when in the exhibition. People weren’t just coming in for a moment and then disappearing – they were sticking around and enjoying the space, reminiscing, interacting with the live interpreters, reading the displays and contributing to the local timeline.

It’s a credit to the BBC that the project was ever conceived. The Hands On History project is looking to help people engage with history in an interactive way and at a much deeper level than they might be used to. This exhibition has really helped people to turn back time.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the online reviews of the exhibition:

Yorkshire Post – featuring a video of behind the scenes
Cornwall’s Coolest
Norwich Heart
Bradford Telegraph & Argus
Frost Magazine
The Express
Stockport Story


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