Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have recently joined our Greening Museums cohort, and it’s really exciting to have them on board.
The Trust is composed of five sites in Stratford-Upon-Avon and its surrounding countryside; Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Nash’s House and New Place, Mary Arden’s Farm, and Hall’s Croft. Along with Compton Verney and Shugborough, they are one of the largest organisations participating, and it goes without saying that the sites are among the most famous tourist attractions in the West Midlands if not the entire country.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust participated in ‘Greenshoots’, an environmental sustainability programme lead by MDOs in Staffordshire and Warwickshire which took place in the 2011-2012 financial year. The sites participating made common use of the Greening Museums Toolkit you may all be familiar with (also linked in our resources page). Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as such, had already taken and planned to take some considerable steps towards reducing their bills and going green, but we are here to help them go even further.
Our visit on Thursday the 14th of February was limited by time, so we only saw the Birthplace itself and the Shakespeare Centre. The Shakespeare Centre is very new compared to some of the other sites, but it has recently received a Grade II heritage listing. The Property Manager there was very generous with his time considering we gave very short notice, and we got a very thorough tour of the building. Its beautiful and complicated architecture helped to earn it its listing, but for our purposes it was very useful to have a guide!
The Birthplace itself has been described as almost a site of secular pilgrimage. I personally would agree – as a devotee of the Bard’s works (I feel for some reason it would be undignified to say ‘fan’) it was incredible for me to see. While most of the time our visits to museums have been more about examining them than enjoying them, the emotional and educational experience they provide is something we need to remember from beginning to end, and we will. The Birthplace itself will be a unique environment for our programme to work with; while other museum buildings contain exhibits, this little house is the exhibit. Even if we do have to tread carefully, we know even at this stage that there are changes that can be made to reduce carbon emissions which will prove valuable not only to the Trust’s finances but to the worldwide network of visitors and fans.