Museums by Mail

Jan 07 2021

Throughout the pandemic we’ve been working hard to bring our collections, exhibitions and events to you online. However, we know not everyone can access digital content, so we're very pleased to have created a project to enable us to reach a wider audience during this often isolating time.

Below, our Public Programme Coordinator,  Jess Shipton, tells us more about the project:

Museums by Mail enables us to share our collections with people in Sheffield through the post. We’ve been sending postcards featuring artworks from Sheffield’s collection to people across Sheffield - particularly to elderly people and those in residential homes, who may have been feeling especially isolated during this challenging time. Our wonderful community of volunteers has spent hours writing hundreds of personalised messages on the postcards. It’s been lovely seeing all the messages that have been written - goodwill wishes, personal memories, interesting insights about the artworks, and even including games for the recipients to play! Every postcard is unique.

Selection of postcards featuring artworks

“I added information about the painting, but I also expressed my feelings and thoughts about the artwork and tried to encourage people to think and reflect about ideas. There is one artwork in which I saw something totally different from what the artwork is meant to be so I included an interactive survey with two options for the person to tick, to see if anyone agreed with me or if I need to check my vision! With one of them I went a bit off track and proposed a game for the recipient, I hope the person has fun! – Irene, Museums Sheffield Volunteer.

It’s a small gesture but we feel that there is something special about receiving post with a personal message that someone has taken the time to write, and we hope the recipients enjoy seeing the artworks too.

"Despite the many forms of instant messaging on our phones, there is still something about getting an actual, as we have now learnt to say, 'hard copy' communication in the form of a letter or card. I think it is about handling the object, not simply reading the words, that gives it special meaning and pleasure. Maybe it’s because you can prop it up on the mantelpiece, if you still have one, or stand it on a shelf and look at it without having to press a button or scroll across a screen. It just is there, within your eyesight all the time if you choose.

"As someone who lives alone and has neither children nor grandchildren, I value highly any communications I get from my friends, family, and organisations that I have links with, including Museums Sheffield, whatever form it takes. During the last nine months or more, these messages and images have helped me to feel still relevant and valued. They have made me laugh, and occasionally cry." - Helen, Museums Sheffield Volunteer.

Everyone who gets a postcard is welcome to write back and we’ll respond again to anyone who does. We’re looking forward to seeing what responses we get back.

postboxWe’ve had an overwhelming response to this project and we still have lots more postcards to write up and send, so at this time we are unable to accept requests for more recipients. As soon as we have more capacity, we’ll let you know through our social media channels and on this webpage.

As a charity donations make it possible for us to continue to deliver projects like Museums by Mail during this difficult time. If you are able, please donate today and support the work of your museums.  

We would also like to thank the following organisations who have kindly worked with us to distribute the postcards: Sheffield Carers, SCCCC, Disability Sheffield, Sheffcare, and Sheffield’s network of lunch clubs.

Header image: Volunteer Irene writing messages on a selection of postcards.





This thread has been closed from taking new comments.