Portfolio > Artform > Visual Arts

Get into Heritage at Weald and Downland Living Museum

Get into Heritage (GiH) was a partnership between Weald and Downland Living Museum, the National Trust at Birling Gap, and Wakehurst Place. The project aimed to increase access for people with learning disabilities to heritage sites through developing creative strategies to help people connect with each site.

Activity was led by artist, Anne Colvin, with staff from each of the partner organisations. It forms part of our Arts Connect programme for learning disabled adults.


  • To open up heritage sites to people with learning disabilities and their carers, building confidence and enthusiasm to support future visits
  • To build skills with staff and volunteers at each site to support ongoing relationships and provision for learning disabled adults
  • To share the learning from the project through resources, dissemination at events targeted at the heritage and social care sector

Who was involved?

  • Artist: Anne Colvin
  • Staff and volunteers at Weald and Downland Living Museum
  • Culture Shift staff
  • Groups and individuals local to each site

What happened?

The programme ran over 5 weeks in April and May 2018 and was attended by 15 learning disabled

Sessions were led by artist Anne Colvin, working closely with Weald & Downland staff and volunteers. Each session involved exploring different aspects of the museum and using creative activities to respond to experiences.

Participants visited different parts of the museum each week, learning about life in the past.  They were shown ancient methods of making tools, they wove their own serving platters with willow, and ground their own flour in the Water Mill. They made bread which they ate with home-churned butter in the Tudor kitchens, dressed up in historical clothing and danced to a Hurdy Gurdy!

Each member of the group collated their creative work from the 5 week course into a scrapbook to take home – a wonderful souvenir of their time at Weald and Downland.

Culture Shift, in partnership with Weald and Downland and Anne Colvin, has produced a set of resources for use by groups of learning disabled visitors and their carers.

These are available to download here:

How to use these resources

Weald and Downland Get into Heritage resources

Weald and Downland Museum Animal Facts

Back to top

Reflections on the project

It has been a really positive experience for me and for the museum. Weald and Downland is for everyone and it has been good to welcome the group for a period of belonging. It has helped me think of potential activities for similar group that will be coming in 2018.

Staff, Weald and Downland Living Museum

A lady called Sarah taught us how to weave using willow.


We have met lots of new friends from lots of different places – we have worked together.


We met the blacksmith who told us how to make old tools – it was really interesting.


This work has been shared at two Get Connected events in Chichester and Haywards Heath and with the Sussex and Surrey Museum Learning Network.

Get into Heritage was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.