ENTHUSIASTIC Bede’s World director Mike Benson is convinced the museum’s summer programme for 2014 is “the biggest and best ever.”
After joining the museum two years ago, Mr Benson vowed to broaden its appeal, so Bede’s World was not simply a magnet for medieval scholars, while preserving the core heritage of Bede and the golden age of Northumbria.
This summer’s varied programme is proof that his inclusive blueprint is starting to become reality.
Leading the summer programme is Banners of the North, an exhibition featuring medieval treasures on loan from the British Museum in London.
Opening on Saturday, July 19, the exhibition will highlight how the North East changed following the invasion of William the Conqueror.
Among the precious artefacts on display – some leaving the famous London museum for the first time – is a 15th century gold signet ring, believed to have once belonged to the Percy family during the Wars of the Roses.
Another rare object will be a gold pendant depicting St George slaying the dragon and a St George amulet ring. Mr Benson said: “In preparation for the Banners of the North exhibition, the British Museum invited 17 Bede’s World staff down to London to examine and learn about the artefacts, which we will have on display until September.
“I have only been director at Bede’s World for the past two years, but I cannot imagine a summer programme like this one at the museum.
“This is our most ambitious summer ever. We will have five exhibitions open during the summer, including one about Josef Craig, the Codex Amiatinus bible, plus two local artists.
“Banners of the North is one of the most significant exhibitions we have ever staged at Bede’s World and is a real feather in our cap.”
Complementing the prestigious display will be the Banner of the North Folk Festival, to be held at Bede’s World from July 18 to 20.
Featuring individual folk singers and South Shields Folk Club, the festival is set to attract music lovers from across the North East.
Getting the general public more involved in Bede’s World and promoting the heritage centre as a community asset has been one of Mr Benson’s main objectives since taking over as museum director. To achieve this, he would like to see more local people volunteering their services to Bede’s World this summer.
He added: “We need volunteers to come and help us with our summer programme.
“We want folk to talk about who they are and what they do as part of this important exhibition from the British Museum.
“We’ve already had a great response, but more volunteers would be greatly appreciated.
“And we are also looking for people in supporting us to deliver crafts. We can train folk and we are hoping to run a puppet theatre every day through the six-week period and again need volunteers for this activity.
“Amateur dramatics people are also wanted to perform in our amphitheatre on our Anglo-Saxon farm site.”
Susan Wear, director of corporate affairs at Port of Tyne, said: “We are delighted to support our neighbour Bede’s World in bringing an exciting programme of national and international treasures to the museum.
This partnership with the British Museum offers a wonderful opportunity for local people and visitors to the area to enjoy and celebrate unique objects connected to our region and it’s great cultural legacy. ”
Anyone who wants more details about the Banners of the North exhibition, the folk festival or how to volunteer, can contact Bede’s World on 489 2106 or visit www.bedesworld.co.uk