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Black Country centre celebrates successful year


A centre dedicated to studying the Black Country has celebrated a successful first year. 

The Black Country Studies Centre (BCSC) is a partnership between the University of Wolverhampton and the Black Country Living Museum.

The Centre marked its one year anniversary with a special event at the University of Wolverhampton’s Chancellor’s Hall.

At the event a new Black Country Studies Research Network was launched, bringing together over 60 researchers, museum and heritage professionals and community group representatives. 

The BCSC partnership formalises an existing collaboration and strong relationship between the University of Wolverhampton and the Black Country Living Museum. In bringing together two of the region’s flagship institutions, the Centre aims to make a unique and ambitious contribution to the future of the Black Country, whilst engaging with and exploring its past and present. With the Museum’s recent announcement of expansion under the Forging Ahead funding, the creation of a physical learning centre will further enhance the partnership.


Dr Jenny Gilbert, Black Country Studies Centre Coordinatorsaid: “As 2019 draws to a close, the BCSC is looking ahead to 2020 and the opportunities it holds in store. The new programme of BCSC study days launches in March and will act as a bridge between formal and informal learning and introduce University scholarship to new audiences and communities. Themes for 2020 cover everything from theatre to 1950s fashion, all with a distinctive Black Country twist!”

The key achievements for the first year of the Centre include:

  • Dr Jenny Gilbert was appointed as coordinator in May 2019. Jenny has a background in working collaboratively with museums and completed her AHRC-funded PhD in History at the University of Wolverhampton in 2016. Since joining the centre, she has been making connections with colleagues across the University and Museum in order to explore new opportunities for teaching, outreach and research.
  • The Centre is building on existing collaborations between the two organisations and developing new partnerships and projects. Examples include a developing relationship between the University’s automotive engineering course and the BCLM’s Sunbeam Club – an educational enhancement project that involves primary school children building an electric vehicle. Colleagues in Visual Communications have worked closely with the museum to develop digital projections for the BCLM’s Christmas evenings. This activity will be developed into a live brief for Visual Communications students in 2020.
  • The BCSC has also supported Humanities research into the senses and memory, hosting events as part of the high profile Snidge Scrumpin’ project and 2019 Being Human Festival.
  • In September the BCSC facilitated the handover of a rare collection of twentieth century fashion photography from the Express and Star Photography Archive to the School of Design. The images, dating back to 1914, provide a valuable insight to the history of fashionable dress and how fashion was communicated to people living in the Black Country. There are plans in place to build on the partnership between the BCSC and the E&S Photo Archive in 2020.
  • It has also been announced that the Black Country Living Museum has successfully secured £65,000 from the Arts Council England Designation Development fund for work looking at its extensive historical pharmaceutical packaging collection. The BCSC supported the bid and coordinated the involvement of University of Wolverhampton researchers from pharmacy, design and history to apply their expertise to this fascinating project.

For more information about the Black Country Studies Centre, visit:

Further information

Caption: Pictured left to right are speakers and key staff from the Museum and University who attended the launch event:  Dr Stuart Connor (University of Wolverhampton), Paul Barnsley (University of Wolverhampton), Dr Jenny Gilbert (Black Country Studies Centre Coordinator), Dr Mary Mahoney (University of Wolverhampton), Kerry Hadley-Price (Manchester Metropolitan University), Andrew Lovett (Black Country Living Museum CEO), Simon Briercliffe (Black Country Living Museum)

The Black Country Studies Centre launched in November 2018. The centre brings together researchers, museum professionals, educators and communities. It showcases the diverse heritage, skills, achievements and uniqueness of the region whilst creating meaningful pathways to education and lifelong learning opportunities. It aims to provide an identifiable vehicle to promote, influence and have an impact on the future of the Black Country.

Date Issued: Monday, 23 December 2019

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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